In a case involving a car accident, punitive damages are financial penalties that are paid to the injured party and are meant to punish the wrongdoer for causing the injury. These type of damages are only awarded in some cases and some states, including Pennsylvania. To receive punitive damages, the wrongdoer's actions or behavior must have been particularly reprehensible. For instance, here are a few examples that may result in punitive damages in states that allow them:
- Using a vehicle as a weapon (i.e intentionally assaulting or killing another with a vehicle)
- Caused injury while under the influence
- Driving recklessly or aggressively and causing injury (road rage or racing)
These punitive damages are only available when the wrongdoer knew or should have known that his or her behavior would likely result in damage to property or cause injury or death. Punitive damages, as the name states, are damages meant to punish and differ from other damages that a car accident victim would seek, such as compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, etc.