Damages after a truck accident in Tulsa include pain and suffering and sometimes even punitive damages. Punitive damages can be awarded to you (the plaintiff in a lawsuit) when the person or company you sue (the defendant) is found liable for committing an offense which results in your injury. Unlike compensatory damages – which pays you for medical bills, lost wages and other fallout from a truck accident – punitive damages punish a defendant for acting with extreme careless (gross negligence) or acting in an intentional manner. The purpose of punitive damages is to deter both the person you sue as well as others from committing similar senseless acts in the future.
What Do I Have To Do To Get Punitive Damages in Oklahoma?
When a defendant’s conduct appears to have been especially bad, then your lawyer might succeed in forcing the defendant (e.g. truck driver, trucking company) to pay extra money to you. For the court to award punitive damages, they consider things like:
The seriousness of the hazard caused by the defendant’s actions
The danger that the defendant posed to the public
· The length of time that the defendant’s misconduct persisted
Whether the defendant knew of their harmful conduct
· The defendant’s response to committing harm
The defendant’s efforts in concealing their actions
· The defendant’s financial situation
It is also important to know whether the truck driver’s actions were reckless and without regard to the victim’s rights, and if the actions were carried out intentionally and with malice. The more harmful or egregious the truck driver’s actions are, the more liable they will be deemed by the court, and the more liable they are, the higher the punitive damages may be.
In What Cases Might I Receive Punitive Damages?
If the truck driver or their company is determined by a court to have been grossly negligent, reckless, or intentionally trying to harm you, then punitive damages may be awarded by a judge. However, you would have to have clear and convincing evidence that the truck driver or the trucking company had evil motives or acted with a shameless disregard towards you. Put more simply, you have to prove that it is highly probable that the defendant did what you have alleged. The bar is high but attainable through the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney.
If evil motives caused the truck driver to harm you, then this means that they had a clear intention to cause your injuries, and that their actions were so reprehensible that they justify punitive damages. As an example, in a fit of road rage, the trucker smashes into the back of your vehicle, causing your injuries. Punitive damages would be warranted for this. Suppose that the manufacturer of a truck part knows that they are incorrectly installing parts on a truck, and their failed installation causes an accident in which you sustain life-threatening injuries. Punitive damages are warranted. Finally, suppose that the trucking company could care less that their trucker is not licensed or that they have serious infractions on their driving record, and that trucker carelessly plows into your vehicle, causing your personal injuries. Again, punitive damages could be justified.
Additional Factors To Consider in Awards of Punitive Damages
Other actions by the truck driver that may result in punitive damages include when they are knowingly driving while impaired on drugs or alcohol; driving for hours beyond their allowable driving time in blatant disregard for truck driving rules; driving while texting; driving without headlights; or performing other senseless actions that they know will likely result in a collision.
As far as the involvement of the trucking company in the accident is concerned, it may be found liable for not giving the driver sufficient or adequate training; failing to properly maintain the truck in question; failing to vet drivers before hiring them; requiring drivers to exceed the speed limit in order to deliver their loads; or ignoring the hours-of-service regulations.
Remember that trucking companies who employ truckers – not just truckers – have a responsibility to reasonably prevent accidents. This involves proper driver hiring practices, sufficient and pertinent driver training, and careful truck maintenance. If you can show that the trucking company recklessly overlooked these safety standards, then punitive damages could be heading your way.
Get An Oklahoma Truck Accident Lawyer
The damages after a truck accident in Oklahoma are very important in getting you back on your feet. If you have suffered injuries, damages or losses due to the horrible actions of a truck driver or someone else, then you will want an experienced personal injury attorney on your side to make sure that you get paid every dollar that you deserve – even punitive damages. The knowledgeable lawyers at Kania Law Office focus heavily on protecting victim’s rights in truck accident cases. For a free consultation, get in touch with Kania Law Office by calling (918) 743-2233 or by contacting us online.