Were you injured in a car wreck and curious if you are entitled to punitive damages? First off, many people may confuse “punitive damages” with “pain and suffering”. To help in understanding the difference:
*Punitive Damages: This is when there was deliberate intention involved in the accident itself. The North Carolina General Statute Section 1D-1 defines this as “egregiously wrongful acts” stating:
Punitive damages may be awarded, in an appropriate case and subject to the provisions of this Chapter, to punish a defendant for egregiously wrongful acts to deter the defendant and others from committing similar wrongful acts.
*Pain & Suffering: This encompasses the emotional, psychological, and physical trauma that was endured, due to your bodily injuries related to the motor vehicle accident.
Therefore, in a claim where we are seeking punitive damages, we would be looking at wrongful acts on the part of the at fault driver (the person that caused the vehicle accident). Examples of this would include if the driver was drunk or if they were excessively speeding when they caused the accident. In a pain and suffering claim, questions would be asked such as were there activities that you enjoyed prior to the accident, such as working out, walking, or soccer, that you are no longer able to participate in? Do you help take care of a family member, but were unable to do so for a period of time while you healed from your injuries? Do you have high anxiety when you get in a vehicle now? These are examples of the emotional and physical traumas that you could experience as a result of your motor vehicle injury, and these are examples of what it means to claim “pain and suffering” in a vehicle accident claim.
Determining an accurate value in your Personal Injury claim can be complex, especially when taking pain and suffering, and potentially punitive damages into consideration. Consulting an attorney who handles these cases routinely is the best way to maximize your recovery. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you want an experienced Attorney to navigate this process for you! Contact us immediately at Shankle Law Firm to schedule a free consultation with Attorney/Owner, Maggie Shankle.