Punitive Damages After a McKinney Car Accident
If someone has been involved in an accident that was caused by someone else, they may want to file a claim to recover damages. Most of the time, the damages available for recovery are economic and non-economic. However, sometimes punitive damages may be awarded to the plaintiff. To learn more about punitive damages after a McKinney car accident, reach out to an accomplished attorney who is knowledgeable about damages following a car wreck.
Purpose of Punitive Damages
In Texas, punitive damages are referred to as exemplary damages and are in place to make an example out of the defendant so that they will never commit that type of infraction again. The purpose of punitive damages after a McKinney car accident is to punish the defendant for their outrageous behavior. In order for the plaintiff to be awarded punitive damages, they must show an extreme degree of loss and that the defendant knew their actions were dangerous.
Most punitive damage cases involve drunk driving or texting and driving. Both of these are deliberate and can cause serious damages to a person and their property.
Limits to Punitive Damages
There are limits on what the jury can punish with as punitive damages in Texas. These limits depend upon the amounts of both economic and non-economic elements after an accident. Usually, the more economic and non-economic damages are awarded, the higher the punitive damages are going to be.
The jury will do the fact-finding behind the case and then the judge turns the findings into a judgment that is enforceable for money. For example, a jury can determine there are $500,000 in punitive damages. The judge then may apply the upper limits and could reduce what the jury thinks is fair to no more than what the law allows, which could be as low as $200,000. It is also important to know that the jury’s findings cannot be increased by the judge.
Likelihood of Punitive Damages Being Awarded
Recovering punitive damages after a McKinney car accident is fairly rare. Punitive damages are often asked for, but they are rarely recovered. They are only recovered if it can be clearly proven that the negligent party knew that their actions were extremely likely to cause serious damages and chose to undertake in the activity anyway.
Even if the evidence supports punitive damages, Texas law requires the jury to consider evidence based on many factors. Some of the factors considered include the net worth of the person that caused the accident, the level of risk involved, and the severity of the wreck. The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code has a specific list of evidence relating to the amount of exemplary damages that the jury is to examine.
Other Facts to Know about Punitive Damages in McKinney
In the rare case when punitive damages after a McKinney car accident is awarded, they are taxed much differently than economic and non-economic damages. Damages awarded in personal injury cases are generally not taxable as income, however, punitive damages are.
Also, punitive damage verdicts are very likely to be appealed. The appellate courts have been historically hostile to the award of punitive damages, therefore, there could be a reversal to a punitive damage award.