Deadly Drivers: Can an Heir Recover Punitive Damages After a Death by a Driver?

A court awards punitive damages in instances where a wrongdoer acted out maliciously. The courts design these damages to deter others from committing similar crimes. If you’ve recently lost a loved one due to an act of negligence, punitive damages might not be available to you. This is because in a lot of states, you cannot seek punitive damages in a wrongful death suit. If you are the heir of someone who was killed by a negligent driver, however, there may be options for you.

Insurance Exclusion

Most insurance policies do not cover punitive damages. In fact, most insurance policies outright exclude liability for punitive damages. This means that if your loved one was in an accident, the insurer will not pay those damages. Now, in the case that insurance won’t pay out, it’s likely that the driver is going to end up having to pay the judgment.

Asset Determination

If you’re considering suiting for punitive damages or any damages after a wrongful death, then it’s crucial that you have an attorney to advocate for you. The attorney will also look into the person responsible to make a decision about whether or not seeking punitive damages is a smart idea. Keep in mind that most insurance companies don’t cover it.

You have to rely on the driver to pay the money that you’re owed. In a lot of cases, people simply don’t have that kind of money. If there’s no way that you’re ever going to see that money or if the risk is too high, then an attorney will warn you away from it. If a driver can’t pay a judgment, neither of you will see your payment.

Exceptions for Heirs

Usually, you cannot seek punitive damages in a wrongful death suit. However, if your loved one did not die immediately after the accident, you may be able to seek punitive damages in a survival action claim. These claims involve going after the driver for medical bills and other payments that the victim could demand if he or she lived. In this way, you may be able to receive punitive damages.

When it comes to punitive damages and wrongful death cases, most people cannot sue. While this is the rule, there are some exceptions to it, depending on the state that you live in and your insurance policy. As complicated as wrongful death suits are, it’s important to have an attorney that can help walk you through the process. For more information on wrongful death, contact a wrongful death lawyer.

 

Source: Wrongful Death Attorney Phoenix, AZ, Rispoli Law

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