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Home » Punitive damages: What are they & why?

Punitive damages: What are they & why?

What are punitive damages?

According to Google, punitive damages are damages exceeding simple compensation and awarded to punish the defendant.

Punitive damages are to punish the person in the wrong in the form of a monetary penalty awarded to the person(s) they wronged.

A client has different types of damages available to them when they have been injured by the negligence of another. This can be from a car wreck, slip and fall, or other injury case. These are usually punitive damage cases and can involve both Commercial (business) lines and personal lines clients depending on those involved in the claim.

There are different caveats and other conditions of punitive damages that rely on the state in which you live.

Punitive Damage in Alabama

In the state of Alabama, when a defendant shows wantonness, the court awards the monetary damages. Wantonness is defined in Alabama Code 1-11-20(b)(3) as “Conduct which is carried on with a reckless or conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.”

Thus, in Alabama, a jury awards punitive damages where it is shown convincingly that the defendant’s behavior showed wantonness. If wantonness is proved, it is understood the defendant knew that his/her actions would lead to harm.

Therefore, if you drive distracted, knowingly, by either text, SnapChat, Instagram, or the weather app and you hurt someone in a wreck, you may have to pay monetary damages to the harmed party.

phone distractions

What’s changing?

Currently, many insurance carriers exclude punitive damage protection. Of course they will compy with wrongful death, but what about other instances? Such as texting or drunk driving where no death occurs?

More and more companies are moving toward this trend as they won’t have to pay out as much, as punitive damages are on the rise. GEICO, Progressive & Allstate are some of the few.

If you want to make sure you’re covered for punitive damages in the event you are the harmed party, click here get a quote through us or call us at 334-263-5535 and ask about our companies that DO NOT exclude punitive damages.