Serious Car Wreck May Involve Exemplary Damages
Authorities believe that the driver who caused a near-fatal car crash on the North Side may have been street racing, which raises the possibility of additional damages in a civil case.
This wreck took place at the intersection of Blanco Road and Wilderness Oak in San Antonio. A man in a Ford Festiva accelerated through a red light, clipped a Toyota Highlander, and then careened into a GMC Yukon. That Yukon’s driver was rushed to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. First responders had to use the Jaws of Life to extricate the Festiva driver from his vehicle; he was then airlifted to an area hospital suffering from severe leg and head trauma.
The Festiva and Highlander drivers were not identified.
Although a recent round of tort reform sharply limited these exemplary damages, they are still available in many serious car crash matters, most specifically those that involve racing, reckless driving, DUI with a high blood alcohol content, or failure to stop and render aid. All these things may be considered “gross negligence” under Chapter 41 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code. That provision defines gross negligence as any act or omission that involves an extreme degree of risk, and the actor knew of the possible consequences and persisted in the course of action.
A related provision limits punitive damages to twice the economic damages, plus the actual amount of non-economic damages. So, in the above example, assume that the jury awards $50,000 in economic damages (lost wages, property damage, and medical bills) and an additional $25,000 in non-economic damages (pain and suffering). The punitive damages would be a maximum $125,000. In determining the amount, the jury may consider the:
- Type of incident;
- Nature of the conduct involved;
- Contributory fault, if any; Extent to which the conduct violates a sense of propriety or justice (this factor is especially important in car crashes that involve a criminal violation); and
- Defendant’s net worth;
Punitive damages are also available in cases that involve fraud or malice, most notably medical negligence and defective product situations.
For a free consultation with an attorney who fights hard to get all the compensation you deserve, contact an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney. You have a limited amount of time to act.