Punitive damages are designed to punish a civil defendant for their egregious negligence or willful misconduct. Punitive damages may be awarded only if the plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence that his or her harm was the result of the defendant’s willful, wanton, or reckless conduct. See S.C. Code § 15-32-510. All types of defendants are subject to punitive damages, whether they are the at fault driver in a car wreck case, the store owner where you slipped and fell, the truck driver who crashed into you, the drug manufacturer who ignored dangerous side of effects of a drug, or many others.
It is important to understand how punitive damages work in relation to other types of compensation an injured individual may be entitled to. Compensatory damages are designed to make a plaintiff whole again for lost wages, medical bills, property damages, and pain and suffering regarding an individual’s injuries. Compensatory damages are separate and distinct from punitive damages. On the other hand, punitive damages are designed for the purpose of punishing the defendant for his or her conduct.
There are many types of punitive conduct that can add value to your case. Drunk driving is a common example of punitive conduct that we often see lead to large recoveries for our clients. Despite all of the laws and rules in South Carolina regarding drunk driving, there are an alarming number of DUI related car wrecks every year. Even though your injuries and bills may be relatively minor, if punitive conduct, like driving drunk is involved, we may be able to recovery significantly more on your case.
Some common examples of punitive conduct are:
• Drunk driving
• Texting and driving
• Driving without a license
• Hit and runs
• High speed police chases
• Driving while on drugs
• Failure to remedy a hazardous and dangerous condition on a premise to save money
• Failure to properly maintain a tractor-trailer to save money
• Truck drivers operating trucks much longer then allowed by law
• Drug manufacturers ignoring dangerous side effects of prescription drugs
• Product manufacturers ignoring dangerous defects of a product to maximize profits
Please note that there are many other actions by a defendant that could result in punitive damages that are not listed above.
It’s important to evaluate every case for potential punitive damages. If your case is not properly evaluated for punitive damages, you could be leaving tens of thousands of dollars on the table. An insurance company isn’t going to tell you that you are entitled to punitive damages. The attorneys at Miller, Dawson, Sigal & Ward Injury Attorneys can evaluate your case for punitive damages and make sure you get the full value of your case.