Truck accidents are quite common nowadays. The big rigs are usually of mammoth sizes and weights. This adds to the catastrophic nature of the truck accidents. The victims can sustain various kinds of injuries after a truck accident which can involve the head, torso, rib, neck, limbs etc.
Many victims suffer spinal cord injuries as well. Sometimes, it may take a long time for the injuries to manifest themselves and this may cause further pain and suffering. In severe cases, truck accidents may lead to death.
Truck accidents are caused due to a variety of reasons. Some of these may include improper weather or road conditions, fatigue, speeding etc. Some accidents are caused due to the truck driver’s recklessness as well. If the truck driver is at fault, a competent lawyer may help you retrieve the compensatory damages. In addition to that, a truck accident case may also involve punitive damages.
Let’s find out more about punitive damages involved with truck accidents.
What are Punitive Damages?
Negligence is one of the primary causes of truck accidents. Negligence can occur on both, the truck driver’s part or on the part of the drivers of other vehicles. Sometimes, a truck accident can be caused by the outrageous and intentional reckless conduct of the truck driver.
Punitive damage is also known as exemplary damage. It is awarded to the victim to punish the defendant about the damages involved due to his/her offensive and reckless behavior that caused the accident. While determining the amount of the award, the jury takes into account the financial condition of the defendant, the nature of the outrageous conduct of the defendant etc. It is also used to send a message to those who may choose to be involved in a similar reckless behavior in the future.
The punitive damages are awarded along with the compensatory damages. The compensatory charges may be inclusive of medical bills incurred by the victim, the loss of wages and so on. Usually, punitive damages can be claimed if the victim suffers severe injuries due to illegal acts of the truck driver.
What Leads to Punitive Damages?
As already established, the victim is awarded punitive only when the truck driver has resorted to unfair means that has caused the accident. Therefore, the victim has to prove the truck driver has behaved with immense carelessness that has led to the accident. When a truck driver engages in an activity that willfully disregards the safety of the others on the road, the victim can claim punitive damages.
Some of the common acts of truck drivers that may lead to punitive damages may include driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs, consuming illegal drugs to stay awake and work for longer hours, attempting to conceal or tamper with evidence that may prove the wrongful acts of the truck driver and so on. Sometimes, the truck driver also attempts to falsify log records. This can also be an offense. Punitive damages may also be obtained by the victims if the truck driver was speeding at the time of accident or was knowingly driving a truck with a defective braking mechanism.
In addition to that, a trucking company may also be responsible for the accident. Punitive damages can be obtained in these events as well. Sometimes, the company may fail to keep the trucks maintained. The trucking company may also violate the screening requirements that they need to follow while hiring truck drivers. Violation of the requirements for hours of service may also enable the victim to claim the punitive damages.
A Substantial Amount of the Compensation
Punitive damages form a large portion of the award that the victim is given in the event of a truck accident. Sometimes, the punitive damages may be more than the combination of all the other damages in the accident. Securing the right evidence is important in that case.
A competent lawyer can help in establishing a strong case as to why the victim should be awarded punitive damages if the possibility exists. If you live in Houston and have been a victim of an 18-wheeler truck accident, you should find out the names of skilled Houston 18-wheeler accident lawyers and select the one best suited to your requirement.
It is always wise to be extra cautious while sharing the road with large trucks to eliminate any possibility of accidents.