If an individual sustains an injury or property damage caused by the careless or negligent actions of a truck driver or trucking company, they should be able to recover compensation for their losses. This generally includes a range of economic and non-economic losses, including medical bills, lost income, out-of-pocket expenses, property damage expenses, and pain and suffering damages.
However, punitive damages may also be available after a truck accident occurs in Philadelphia. Here, we want to define punitive damages and describe some situations where these may be awarded after a truck accident occurs.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Not every personal injury claim involves punitive damages in Pennsylvania. Punitive damages, also referred to as exemplary damages, only occur in cases where the behavior of the defendant was seen to be grossly egregious or intentional. A plaintiff will have certain burdens of proof they must have put forward if they are claiming punitive damages, but the decision to deny or grant punitive damage awards fall largely with the court.
In general, a court will agree to punitive damages if they believe that the defendant should be punished for their actions and if they believe that the punitive damage award will send a signal to others that this type of behavior is not accepted.
What Instances Could Result in a Punitive Damage Award
Punitive damages may be appropriate for a variety of reasons in a truck accident claim in Pennsylvania. This is particularly true if the behavior of the truck driver or truck company was grossly negligent or intentional.
Some common examples of when a truck driver or trucking company may face punitive damages include:
- Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Driving while impaired by any illegal or legal substance is prohibited, particularly for commercial truck drivers.
- Driving while distracted. If a truck driver operates the vehicle while distracted by cell phones, radios, GPS devices, or anything else in the vehicle, this could lead to disastrous results.
- Road rage incidents. Road rage incidents would fall under the idea of punitive damages due to intentional behavior. Road rage is a choice.
- Ignoring hours of service requirements. All drivers have to abide by the hours of service set forth by the FMCSA. These hours of service dictate how much a person can drive during each day and during a workweek.
- Failing to regularly inspect or maintain the truck. Trucking companies are required to regularly inspect and maintain each vehicle in order to ensure safety on the roadway.
We do want to note that even if a person sustained an injury or property damage in a truck accident and punitive damages are not awarded, they will still likely be able to recover various types of economic and non-economic damages. This includes compensation for medical bills, lost wages, property damage expenses, and pain and suffering damages.
Call a Truck Accident Lawyer Today
If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of a truck driver or truck company, reach out to an attorney immediately. A Philadelphia truck accident lawyer can examine every aspect of your claim, and they will work diligently to recover full compensation for your losses. This will include investigating the case, handling communications with other parties, and negotiating for a fair settlement.