Can I Recover Punitive Damages After a Car Accident?

After you’ve been involved in a serious car accident, your first step will usually be to file a claim with your insurance company. In some cases, however, you might want to pursue a personal injury lawsuit instead, to ensure that you have enough compensation to cover your losses. This is especially true if the other driver was severely negligent, as you may be able to pursue a special type of compensation called punitive damages.

Unlike compensatory damages, which are awarded to cover the costs of your injuries and recovery, punitive damages are intended to punish the at-fault driver, and discourage other drivers from doing the same thing. Awarded only at the judge or jury’s discretion, it’s exceptionally difficult to secure this form of recovery in Arizona – unless you have clear evidence that the other driver acted with an “evil hand and evil mind.”

Understanding the Punitive Damages Standard

The first thing you should understand about seeking punitive damages in Arizona is that your trial attorneys will be facing significant obstacles from the start. It’s estimated that only about 5% of all personal injury lawsuits result in punitive damages, precisely because the bar is set so high for this form of recovery.

To determine whether the at-fault party meets the “evil hand and evil mind” standard – or at least the minimum standard of “deliberate indifference” – you can’t simply show that they were negligent. You also have to show that there was some purposefully malicious intent behind their actions, one that caused them to put your life in danger.

So When Can I Receive Punitive Damages in a Car Accident?

Because most drivers do not intend to cause an accident, securing punitive damages is not an easy feat. However, in cases of extreme negligence – such as drunk driving, severe road rage and tailgating, or actively threatening behavior – it’s possible to meet the standard of “deliberate indifference,” or to show that the at-fault party acted with poor intentions.

At Rafi Law Group, we’ll do our best to secure the maximum recovery in your car accident case. That means we’ll consider all the possibilities for recovery, including punitive damages if applicable. While we can never guarantee a result, we have the experience and knowledge to make a strong case for punitive damages in court, and to ensure that justice is observed in your accident case.

For more information, call (623) 207-1555 today. We offer free consultations 24/7!

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