May 30, 2022
personal injury

A personal injury lawsuit in Alabama usually includes compensatory damages. These damages cover economic damages like medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage, and non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

Punitive damages are a distinct type of damage that seek to punish or teach the negligent party a lesson by holding them liable for additional monetary compensation. Courts typically only award punitive damages if an experienced lawyer proves malicious intent or wanton disregard.

Learn more about punitive damages in Alabama and why working with a personal injury lawyer from The Vance Law Firm can help you win maximum compensation.

What Are Punitive Damages in Alabama?

Punitive damages punish the other party for reckless acts, negligent behaviors, or flagrant violations of Alabama law. If you incur a personal injury under these circumstances, the other party may have to pay punitive damages for their wrongdoings and the injuries they caused to you.

Punitive damages aim to show that breaking the law can have serious consequences for people and businesses who attempt to conduct similar wanton behavior.

An Alabama jury can award punitive damages totaling up to three times the total economic damages. However, punitive damages have a cap of $500,000. In a lawsuit, the court may award punitive damages up to $500,000 or three times the total compensatory damages, whichever is bigger.

How Do Alabama Courts Award Punitive Damages?

You may be eligible for punitive damages in Alabama if you prove that the other party denied your rights, committed fraud, or engaged in wanton conduct or malice.

These are the criteria used to determine whether you qualify for punitive damages.

  • Fraud: People who intentionally misrepresent information or withhold physical property intended to injure or take away a person’s rights or property can face punitive damages.
  • Malice: Malice is committing an act intending to harm or destroy someone or act maliciously.
  • Wantonness: The term “wantonness” means acting recklessly without regard for others’ rights and safety.
  • Oppression: As per Alabama law, oppression refers to the act of denying someone’s rights while imposing cruel and unjust hardship on that person.
  • Clear and convincing evidence: There must also be clear and convincing evidence to prove every fact in the claim is valid before an Alabama court. The evidence must leave little doubt about the other party’s purpose or disregard for others’ safety.

A Montgomery personal injury lawyer can explain how punitive damages work and guide you through the legal process if you are concerned about the amount of evidence in your case.

Punitive Damage Scenarios

Alabama courts assess punitive damages on a case-by-case basis, considering various factors when determining an award. It is possible to apply punitive damages in these situations when someone’s actions have been deliberate, reckless, or malicious‌.

Car accidents

Punitive damages may come into play in car accidents where there is clear evidence of extreme recklessness or misconduct. If there is evidence that a driver caused an accident by driving while extremely intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, drag racing at high speeds, or driving aggressively, they may have to pay punitive damages for putting others’ safety at risk.

Manufacturing defects

You may claim punitive damages against a manufacturer if a defective product causes your injuries. Punitive damages may be due to a motorcycle manufacturer who sold motorcycles with faulty tires that caused an accident and caused your injuries.

The court must determine that the manufacturer intentionally hid or misrepresented something that resulted in injuries.

Slip and fall accidents

Slip and fall cases can result in punitive damages. For example, a store owner fails to repair their stairs despite knowing that the staircase is broken. If a customer slips and falls due to this failure, the store owner may face severe liability for punitive damages.

Since the store owner failed to remedy the known risk, their actions may be considered willful and wanton. Their lack of action may justify an award of punitive damages.

Reach out to an Alabama Personal Injury Attorney

If you believe ‌you may be eligible for punitive damages due to the circumstances of your personal injury case, speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer at The Vance Law Firm as soon as possible.

One of our experienced lawyers can explain your rights, establish liability, and assemble your expenses into a fair compensation package that may include punitive damages. Get in touch with our office today to arrange your free initial consultation.

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