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Could I Get Punitive Damages for My Knox County Car Accident?

Posted on in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Knoxville personal injury attorneyWhen a careless driver causes an accident and hurts someone, the at-fault driver is generally expected to compensate the victim for their expenses related to the accident. This usually includes things like medical bills, lost wages, and even some future expenses if the victim will require continued care. These are ordinary damages. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are designed to punish those whose actions go above and beyond simple negligence. If the driver who hurt you was merely negligent—perhaps looking at their phone or driving a bit too fast—you generally will not be entitled to punitive damages. 

However, if the driver’s actions were truly egregious, you may want to speak to a qualified attorney about whether asking for punitive damages might be reasonable. 

What Kinds of Driver Behaviors Could Make Punitive Damages Appropriate?

The standard for punitive damages is much higher than the standard for damages for ordinary negligence. The at-fault driver’s actions must have been reckless or intentional, reflecting a true disregard for the safety of others. Examples of driver conduct that could potentially warrant punitive damages include: 

  • Driving drunk - Driving under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, or harder drugs is extremely dangerous. Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving have been formed solely to combat this often deadly crime. Those who choose to get behind the wheel knowing that they are intoxicated and cannot safely drive are making a conscious decision to endanger the lives and safety of everyone else on or near the road. Punitive damages are not uncommonly awarded for the injured victims of drunk driving. 
  • Street racing - Racing at excessive speeds on public streets puts everyone in danger. Street racers, who are almost never professional drivers, often drive at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour and are very prone to losing control of their vehicles. Due to the extreme speeds and multiple cars involved in racing, the resulting crashes can be severe. Even those who are not on the road at all can be injured by street racers - when a car loses control at those speeds, they may travel a significant distance off the road before finally crashing. 
  • Road rage - This is rare, but it happens. Some drivers have become so enraged, often over a minor slight such as being passed, that they intentionally cause a crash, such as by forcing someone off the road. Alternatively, road raging drivers may engage in conduct so reckless that a crash is almost inevitable. This may include actions like purposely pulling very closely in front of someone and slamming on the brakes without warning. 

If you believe that punitive damages are warranted after your crash, it is important to find an aggressive and experienced attorney. A clear and convincing argument will need to be made, as courts are often reluctant to award damages strictly to punish the at-fault driver. 

Speak With a Knox County Car Accident Attorney

The Law Office of William F. Evans will fight for you to receive the maximum possible amount of damages if you have been hurt by a reckless driver. Our skilled Knoxville car accident lawyers will do everything in our power to get you fully compensated for what happened to you. Call us at 423-449-7980 for a free consultation. 


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