Punitive Damages in a Car Accident Case | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Victims who have been injured in car accidents caused by another party can pursue damages against that party. This process usually starts by filing a car accident claim against the at-fault party’s auto insurance company who – in most cases – will eventually settle the case and give the victim the financial compensation they deserve.

In some cases, the insurance company will either fail to negotiate in good faith or they deny the victim’s claim. In these situations, the victim has the legal right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver and a judge or jury will decide if the victim deserves an award and how much that amount should be.

A North Carolina accident attorney can review a victim’s case and determine how much compensation they are entitled to. There are two types of damages that can be included in the claim, economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages may include medical expenses and lost wages. Noneconomic damages that can be awarded include pain and suffering, mental anguish, permanent disability, and disfigurement




In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded to the victim for their injuries. A North Carolina car accident attorney can determine if punitive damages apply in your case.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Economic and noneconomic damages are referred to as compensatory damages because they are meant to “compensate” the victim for the losses their injuries have caused them. Economic damages have a tangible dollar amount that determines their total. Noneconomic damages do not have a tangible dollar amount and are either agreed upon by during settlement negotiations or are determined by the jury if the case goes to litigation.

Punitive damages are not compensatory but are instead what their name implies – they are meant to “punish” the at-fault party because their behavior or actions that caused the accident was so egregious.

In car accident cases, punitive damages may be awarded when the at-fault driver displayed willful and wanton reckless conduct and that resulted in the crash that caused the victim’s injuries. One of the most common types of car accident cases where punitive damages are awarded to the victim is in drunk driving crashes.

Let a NC Personal Injury Attorney Help

It is important to remember that any criminal charges brought against a driver for a drunk driving crash are entirely separate from any personal injury claims that a victim may file against that driver for injuries sustained in the crash. If you have suffered injuries in a DUI crash, contact a skilled North Carolina car accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have against the drunk driver for the pain and losses you have suffered. Our Carolinas DUI accident firm has successfully represented many clients who were injured in alcohol-related accidents and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.

The legal team at Shapiro & Appleton have been advocating for accident victims for more than 30 years and will evaluate your case and explain what your legal options may be. Contact our office today for a free consultation.