Understanding The Personal Injury Process

How Punitive Damages Are Awarded In A Motorcycle Accident Case

When you are involved in a motorcycle accident, there are several damages you might be able to collect if you win your case. You may receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, if you are the victim of an accident involving a very negligent party, someone who was reckless or even malicious, you may be able to receive punitive damages as well.

How Punitive Damages are Different

The purpose of most damages awarded by the courts is to make the defendant whole. Once you have been compensated for your expenses, you will not receive anything else under this framework. However, the courts may decide to award punitive damages, on rare occasions, on top of regular damages.

For example, you may have a motorist who knows a motorcyclist and has a personal grudge against him. By tapping him with a car intentionally, the motorcyclist might then fall off his  bike and suffer severe injuries. Because the act was intentional, the motorist may receive punitive damages.

The Likelihood of Receiving Punitive Damages

States vary regarding how they award punitive damages. In some states, there is no limit to the punitive damages. In other states, the punitive damages are capped based on a percentage of the compensatory damages.

The purpose of punitive damages is so that the courts can send a message that these actions are not acceptable and to deter others from carrying out similar actions. Also, the idea that your injuries were caused by recklessness or malice can be more emotionally devastating.

If you are a motorcyclist and your case goes to court, the jury is more likely to be biased against motorcyclists and may not rule in your favor. However, if the behavior of the defendant was so terrible that you may receive punitive damages, the jury may be more likely to sympathize with you.

The Importance of a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

To be awarded punitive damages, you must prove that the other party was malicious or reckless. In some cases, this might be easier to prove because the police may have charged the defendant with reckless driving. However, in other cases, your personal injury attorney, especially a motorcycle lawyer,  will need to present additional evidence to show that the driver had the intention to cause you harm. An expert witness may examine the damaged vehicles and your injuries to also determine that the accident was not an accident.