Truck accident punitive damages

Texas Truck Accident Punitive Damages

When you are the victim of a truck accident, you have the right under Texas law to recover damages or costs incurred as a result of the accident. Punitive damages are one of the types of damages you may be able to recover. These costs are designed specifically to punish the responsible party and are in addition to compensatory and non-compensatory damages that may be assessed. But circumstances are limited in which you can claim these damages, and you must be able to prove that punitive damages should be awarded in your particular case.

Types of Damages

Victims of truck accidents in Texas may be able to recover three types of damages: compensatory, non-compensatory, and punitive.

Compensatory Damages

Sometimes called monetary damages, these are hard costs incurred as a result of the accident and can include:

  • Repair or replacement of your vehicle
  • Medical costs, including medical equipment, ER visits, specialist visits, physical therapy, and mental health therapy
  • Lost wages due to missed work, including the day of the accident, days needed for surgery and/or recovery, and time missed to attend medical appointments

Non-compensatory or Non-Monetary Damages

These are more fluid costs that an experienced accident attorney can put a value on, such as costs for mental anguish, pain and suffering, loss of spousal privileges, and cases where there has been severe disfigurement and/or impairment.

Punitive Damages

These costs are designed specifically to punish deliberate and malicious behavior on the part of the negligent party in the accident. 

Punitive Damages in Texas 

Punitive damages—sometimes called “exemplary” damages—are designed to warn and deter others as to what can happen when you deliberately and maliciously intend to cause harm to another. They come into play in a personal injury case when someone clearly and deliberately intended to cause harm to the victim. 

Many truck accidents are simply the result of neglect. Momentary carelessness is not the same as recklessness with a deliberate intent to cause harm. 

While you can claim punitive damages in Texas, you must be able to prove that the perpetrator deliberately intended to cause harm and that the injuries sustained by the victim were not accidental. In Texas, there are three causes for punitive damages:

  1. Malicious intent. Road rage is one of the most frequent examples.
  2. Intentional fraud. This involves intentionally deceiving someone, such as falsifying records.
  3. Gross negligence. In cases where the defendant was participating in egregiously dangerous behavior without regard to risk, gross negligence may be alleged.

How Punitive Damages Are Calculated

The vast majority of truck accident cases will not include punitive damages. They can be difficult to prove, and even in cases where circumstances are clear and punitive damages are claimed, the amounts may be capped, or you may have difficulty collecting the total amount of damages due to limits set by the other party’s insurance company.

In cases where punitive damages are appropriate to pursue, an experienced truck accident lawyer will know how to calculate punitive damages and ask for an amount appropriate to the circumstances of the case. The amount depends on the defendant’s reckless or malicious behavior and the harm done to the plaintiff.

There is no set or standard amount of punitive damages, though there are maximums. Texas law calculates punitive damage limits as follows: The greater of $200,000 or twice the amount of the victim’s economic damages—plus an equal amount of noneconomic damages, with a maximum of $750,000.

Fighting for Your Rights

In cases where someone has deliberately set out to harm the victim of an accident, punitive damages may be appropriate and can help the victim or their loved ones in cases where someone has been severely injured, permanently disabled, or when their injuries were fatal. Work with an experienced Texas truck accident lawyer who understands how to assess the circumstances of the case, gather appropriate evidence, and recover all the damages you are entitled to under Texas law.