Can You Get Punitive Damages After a Truck Accident in Kentucky?
Most of the truck accidents in Kentucky that cause catastrophic injuries and deaths are preventable. If an investigation finds that the truck accident that injured you or killed a loved one could have been prevented with reasonable care, you may be able to hold the at-fault party accountable. Determining whether you are eligible for punitive damages after a truck accident in Kentucky can allow you to better understand the value of your lawsuit.
What Are Punitive Damages?
There are two types of damages available in a civil claim in Kentucky: compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory is the most common. This type compensates or reimburses an injured victim for the losses he or she suffered in an accident. They are meant to make a victim whole again. They pay for losses such as medical bills, vehicle repairs and lost wages.
Punitive damages, on the other hand, are based on the defendant’s actions or failure to act, rather than the victim’s losses. The word, “punitive” means intended as a punishment. Punitive damages are meant to punish or penalize the defendant for especially wrongful acts in relation to an accident, injury or death. Punitive damages may be awarded to a victim in addition to compensatory damages in a truck accident lawsuit in Kentucky if the courts deem it appropriate.
What Is Kentucky’s Choice No-Fault Law?
Each state has different laws in terms of when punitive damages are and are not available to a plaintiff. To be eligible for punitive damages in Kentucky, you must first verify your eligibility to bring a personal injury lawsuit against another person or party, such as the truck driver or trucking company. Under Kentucky’s choice no-fault insurance law, not every driver will have the ability to file a claim against another party after a truck accident.
To file a third-party insurance claim or injury suit, you must have more than $1,000 in medical expenses, a permanent injury or disfigurement, a serious bone fracture, or the permanent loss of a body function. You could also qualify by choosing to opt out of Kentucky’s no-fault system when you purchase car insurance. Only in these scenarios can you bring an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against someone other than your own insurance provider.
When Are Punitive Damages Given in Kentucky?
If you can file a truck accident lawsuit against another party, you may receive punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages if you or your truck accident attorney can prove using clear and convincing evidence that you are eligible. Under Kentucky Revised Statutes Section 411.184, punitive damages are only given when there is proof that the defendant acted toward the plaintiff with oppression, fraud or malice.
Oppression means with specific intent to cause the plaintiff cruel and unjust hardship. Fraud is the intentional misrepresentation or concealment of a known fact. Malice is the intent to harm the plaintiff. Clear and convincing evidence is the burden of proof for all personal injury cases. It means enough evidence to establish that the defendant is more likely than not guilty of the action or behavior in question.
How Can a Truck Accident Attorney Help You Obtain Punitive Damages?
To recover punitive damages for a truck accident in Kentucky, you or your lawyer will need clear and convincing evidence. For example, if a truck driver intentionally caused your crash because of road rage, this may qualify you for punitive damages from the truck driver or trucking company. Your lawyer, however, would need evidence that the truck driver behaved recklessly, such as the truck’s black box or eyewitness recollections.
An experienced truck accident lawyer can help you bring a claim for punitive damages in Kentucky. An attorney will have the knowledge, experience and resources to collect compelling evidence, use persuasive storytelling to demonstrate the merits of your claim to a judge or jury, and fight for the damage award that you deserve – including punitive damages, if applicable. For more information about pursuing punitive damages for a truck accident in Kentucky, contact an attorney from Hendy | Johnson | Vaughn | Emery today.