When Would Punitive Damages be Awarded for a Truck Accident in Texas?

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Punitive, or exemplary, damages are intended to set an example and may be awarded in very rare situations where a person is deemed grossly negligent for hurting somebody terribly and showing no remorse. Continue reading to learn more about when punitive damages might be awarded for a truck accident in Texas.

Requirements for Jury Verdicts in Semi-Truck Collision Cases

Texas Civil Practice Remedies Code Chapter 41 states that the defendant in a civil trucking accident case is entitled to a bifurcated trial, which is a judicial proceeding divided into two stages: one to determine guilt and one to set damages.

The plaintiff presents the facts of the case during the first part of the trial. Jurors in state trial court must unanimously agree that the defendant was grossly negligent for punitive damages to be awarded. For truck crash cases tried in a Texas district court, however, 10 out of 12 jurors must reach a verdict for the judge to award punitive damages. In the context of a Texas county court, five out of six jurors must agree on the defendant’s liability for compensation to be awarded for a tractor-trailer accident.

High Evidence Standards for Punitive Damages in Texas

Punitive or exemplary damages have a higher evidentiary standard. The standard of proof for most civil cases is a preponderance of the evidence, which means that the evidence must convince the jury that someone is “more likely than not” at fault.  However, for punitive damages, the standard of proof becomes clear and convincing evidence of liability, which requires the evidence to show that it is “highly likely” that the defendant was at fault.

To receive an award of punitive damages in a Texas trucking collision case, the evidence must absolutely convince the jury that the defendant did it, that they did it in a wrongful manner, and that they could potentially hurt somebody again. Finally, your attorney must prove the defendant not only knew that their actions could hurt somebody, but also that they did not care.

Calculating Punitive Damages for Truck Accident Claims in Texas

The judge then takes the proposed punitive damages and puts them through the matrix found in Chapter 41 to establish whether they meet the limitations. Determining the correct number is a very precise calculation where the judge weighs the economic and non-economic damages against the proposed punitive damages.

A skilled attorney like those at McCraw Law Group can explain when punitive damages might be awarded after a truck accident in Texas. Get in touch with us today to learn more.