When you file a lawsuit, there are typically two categories of damages that you might seek, depending on the jurisdiction in which you file.
Compensatory damages are the most common type. They involve compensation for actual losses related to the actions or inaction of someone else. Both misconduct and default could provide grounds for compensatory damages. Lost wages, medical bills and the cost of replacing or repairing property are all grouped in with compensatory damages.
The other category of damages is known as punitive damages. These are financial punishments intended to serve justice to the victims and penalize those who cause harm to others.
North Carolina does sometimes award punitive damages in personal injury or wrongful death claims after a car crash. In order to even consider punitive damages, the responsible party must also be liable for some degree of compensatory damages.
Additionally, their actions must meet a specific standard. The claimant will have to demonstrate that the responsible party engaged in fraud, acted with malice or otherwise displayed wanton or willful misconduct. Provided that the case needs both of those requirements, the court may award punitive damages to the people who bring the wrongful death claim against the party who caused the crash.
Examples of situations that could result in punitive damages might include someone getting behind the wheel while drunk or someone who causes injury to another person on purpose. Requesting punitive damages can be a way for victims who lose a loved one to seek justice from the legal system.