Easing The Litigation Experience

Can You Get Punitive Damages After A Motorcycle Accident

Motorcycle accidents can be absolutely devastating to both the victim and the victim's family. They can leave you with serious injuries, a long recovery time, and even permanent injuries. The physical, financial, and emotional burdens you can have after a bad wreck can be overwhelming.

It's bad enough when an accident happens through simple negligence -- but what about when the driver who caused the wreck was downright reckless or even malicious? In some instances, you may be able to collect punitive damages on top of the regular compensation you might receive for your injuries.

What are punitive damages?

In a lawsuit, the compensation you receive -- or "damages" -- usually consists of the cost of your medical bills, lost wages, expected future expenses related to the accident and something for your pain and suffering. However, there are times that a court may see fit to punish the guilty party in an accident case for his or her behavior. That's where punitive damages come in. While you do benefit from punitive damages, their real purpose isn't to compensate you for your losses. Instead, they're an economic sanction against the defendant -- and a warning to others not to engage in similar behavior.

When are punitive damages possible?

In reality, most motorcycle accidents are just dumb mistakes. A driver forgets to check his or her blind spot before making a lane change or glances down at a GPS system at the wrong moment and causes a crash. However, there are times when it is certainly appropriate to ask the court to award punitive damages. Some examples include:

  • The driver who caused the wreck was speeding at an excessive rate (such as 60 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone)
  • The at-fault driver was inebriated or intoxicated on an illegal substance
  • The accident is due to an incident of road rage on the part of the at-fault driver
  • The driver who caused the wreck was wantonly ignoring safety issues by playing Pokemon Go or watching videos on his or her phone at the time

The facts of your individual case, obviously, have a great deal to do with whether or not punitive damages are possible. 

Can punitive damages be applied anywhere else?

In some cases, an accident is made unnecessarily worse because of mechanical failures involving the motorcycle itself. In others, a design flaw in the rider's helmet could make the driver's injuries more severe. If you can prove that the manufacturers of these items were aware that their product was flawed and they still allowed them to go on the market, punitive damages might again be appropriate.

Every motorcycle accident case is unique, so discuss your situation carefully with a motorcycle accident lawyer to find out more.