The victim of an accident could consider suing for punitive damages, if their injury had been caused by the action or lack of action that had been taken by another person. Yet a smart Personal Injury Lawyer in Cambridge would not encourage such a lawsuit unless the allegedly guilty party had demonstrated behavior that might be called evil or inconceivable. Exemplary damages (another name for punitive damages) get awarded to the victim of actions that showed a disrespect for the injured person.
If someone has filed a lawsuit for punitive damages, the court will study the precedents, the decisions made in similar cases. The basis for a such a lawsuit will differ, depending on the type of accident that caused the injury.
Examples of the negligence that can cause various accidents and become a basis for punitive damages
In an automobile accident, that would be any behavior that had violated a traffic law, and had thus put other drivers in danger. For instance, behaviors such as speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, going through a red light and failing to stop for pedestrian in a crossing could be viewed as examples of negligence.
At the site of a slip and fall incident, the condition of the property could yield evidence that the property owner had been negligent. Had the floor become broken? Were the lights on a staircase too dim? Did a balcony lack sufficient support or a strong enough railing? Those are the sorts of questions that the court would try to answer.
A claim of malpractice often gets linked to a lawsuit for punitive damages. A physician is expected to be healer. Actions that have strayed from what is expected does suggest a disrespect for the person that got injured. For that reason, the allegedly guilty doctor does stand at risk for being ordered to pay money, as a form of punishment.
Money paid as a punishment is not the same as compensatory damages
Money paid in the form of compensation should help to get the victim back to the point where he or she was before the accident. The victim suffers the loss of money, and the compensatory damages are meant to serve as reimbursement for those same losses. In this case the compensated victim got injured due to a careless mistake, one that has been made by others. For that reason, it does not qualify as inconceivable behavior.
The amount a defendant gets charged for compensatory damages could get reduced, if the plaintiff had also been a bit careless. Such an action would never be taken, if a court felt that a defendant needed to pay money, in order to be punished for showing disrespect towards another individual.