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March 27th, 2013

Punitive Damage Claims in Pennsylvania Car Accident Cases

For the vast majority of people who get into car accidents in this state, there will never be a need to make any legal claim against the other driver. However, in some cases, an accident will be so severe that a legal case is required. For people who suffer serious injuries and lose time from work, or worse, become disabled and lose their jobs, they have a legal right to seek fair and just compensation for injuries and financial losses. In Pennsylvania, that can include a claim for punitive damages.

Punitive damages are meant to punish a party for acts which far exceed negligence. In order to make a successful claim for punitive damages, there must be evidence that the other driver acted with sufficient recklessness, a conscious disregard for the health, safety and well-being of others on the road.

Running a red light, entering an intersection, speeding, careless driving, etc. generally do not warrant punitive damages. Instead, the following kinds of actions may warrant such a claim:

  • texting on a cell phone in a school zone,
  • excessive speeding through a school zone, or
  • driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In addition, falling asleep at the wheel may warrant punitive damages. Accidentally falling asleep, in and of itself, is probably not enough to warrant punitive damages. However, if the driver is driving a large truck or has been driving for days without proper rest, punitive damages may be warranted. A recent Pennsylvania criminal court case lends support for a finding of punitive damages in situations where a truck driver falls asleep at the wheel. Read more about punitive damages in car accident cases where the driver fell asleep at the wheel.

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For more information, contact our Pennsylvania car and truck accident trial lawyers. Our lawyers prepare each case for trial and fight insurance companies on behalf of their clients.

**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.