Punitive damages are supposed to punish a defendant that has committed an act of gross negligence. The defendant’s conduct should have been reprehensible, and rising to a level that demonstrates the defendant’s need for a punishment. That conduct should show a lack of regard for the plaintiff’s safety.
What punitive damages are not?
They are not awarded in order to compensate a victim for harm that was directed at him or her. Unlike other damages in a personal injury lawsuit, the punitive damages are not meant to get the victim back to the point where he or she was before the accident.
The punitive damage award is not tied to the victim’s injuries. It does, however, reflect the method used to inflict those same injuries. Rather than focusing on the nature of an injury, a punitive damage award focuses on the vindictive nature of the actions that caused the plaintiff’s injury.
Suggesting a good time for utilization of punitive damages.
It could be that the diagnostic techniques first used on an accident victim fail to reveal the exact nature of that victim’s injury. Still, the same man, woman or child has demonstrated the continued existence of unrelenting pain. That fact suggests that the person responsible for the victim’s injury lacked any feeling for how the victim might suffer, as a result of the inflicted injuries.
Moreover, if the insurance company shows no readiness to await the results of further diagnostic tests, the wait for achievement of MMI could be considerable. A long wait for justice means a long wait for money.
Yet, if the plaintiff sought to enter a request for punitive damages, the injured victim and his or her family could get money much sooner. True, there would be a tax on the punitive damage award, but it could prove better to pay that tax money than to pay bills for a complication that has yet to be identified.
Consider some possible complications
• A traumatic brain injury could trigger the development of serious neurological problems.
• A back injury could lead to the development of excruciating back pain.
• A whiplash injury could limit the victim’s ability to enjoy some of the activities in which he or she had previously participated.
Any one of those developments remained a possibility, if the actions of the insurance company prevented an effort to obtain more money, which could be used for performance of diagnostic tests. Indeed, Personal injury lawyer in Grande Prairie knows that a failure to diagnose a condition properly puts the injured victim at risk for complications.
Complications mean more medical bills. If no one had predicted the complications, those same bills would create unexpected demands on the family’s money. In light of that fact, why not obtain more money by using this tool: punitive damages?