Punitive Damages in an Ohio Trucking Accident

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Trucking accidents can result in catastrophic injuries. If you or someone you care about was injured in an Ohio truck accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit to obtain compensation for economic and non-economic losses that result from those injuries. 

Economic losses include things like medical bills incurred for treatment related to the accident, and lost wages due to time missed from work. 

Non-economic damages refer to the intangible losses caused by a car accident, such as an inability to spend time with family, the changed nature of the relationship between spouses, and the pain and suffering associated with injuries sustained in an accident. 

In some cases, Ohio injury victims can also make a claim for punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for outrageous, malicious, or reckless conduct, and to deter similar conduct in the future. 

Examples of Reckless, Outrageous, or Malicious Conduct in a Truck Accident Case

Punitive damages may be appropriate in cases where the defendant acted egregiously. Egregious actions could include operating a vehicle while intoxicated, gross negligence, recklessness, or cases where the defendant intended to cause harm to the plaintiff. In some cases, the intent to cause harm can be inferred when the defendant’s actions are grossly negligent or exhibit a reckless disregard for the safety of others. 

In the context of a commercial trucking accident, decisions like driving an 18-wheeler while under the influence of drugs or alcohol certainly qualifies an injured victim to a claim for punitive damages.  Further, willful violation of federal safety regulations, recklessness and repeated safety violations by a trucking company will qualify an injured victim for punitive damages. 

Similarly, if the defendant was using a cell-phone while driving and was involved in an accident, punitive damages are available. 

In addition, profits motivate some commercial trucking companies to take unreasonable risks, such as demanding that drivers work 14-hour days, or hiring inexperienced or unqualified drivers. 

A corporate defendant might be subject to punitive damages if it has policies in place that encourage drivers to take safety risks. For example, a trucking company that encourages drivers to ignore hours of service regulations, fails to properly maintain its fleet of vehicles, or encourages drivers to speed to meet delivery times could be subject to punitive damages.  

When Are Punitive Damages Awarded

Punitive damages may be awarded against a corporate defendant if the trucking company knew or should have known that there was a high degree of probability that their policies would result in injury. 

Ohio judges and juries may award punitive damages after they have made a decision on compensatory (i.e. economic and non-economic) damages. When assessing punitive damages, the judge and jury will focus on the nature of the defendants’ conduct rather than the injuries and pain and suffering that resulted from it. In the punitive damages phase of a trial, the judge and jury will be looking for evidence of intentional, reckless, or malicious conduct.

Caps on Punitive Damages in Ohio

Ohio law limits the amount of punitive damages an injury victim can obtain. Our experience however   is that juries are much more likely to award significant economic damages when drivers and companies engage in outrageous activility. In addition, when serious injuries or death result, these caps on damages do not factor into play to limit the amount of damages.   

Robenalt Law Fights for People Injured in Trucking Accidents

If you or someone you care about was catastrophically injured in an accident with a truck, you might be entitled to punitive damages. But it’s important that you act quickly. Immediately after an accident, trucking companies dispatch lawyers, experts and claims adjusters to the scene of the accident with one goal in mind: limiting the potential of a judgment that is adverse to the trucking company.  Hire a lawyer that is ready to do the same for your family or loved one.

To go toe-to-toe with the trucking company’s lawyers, you need an experienced Ohio trucking accident attorney who knows how to navigate a commercial trucking case, immediately obtain experts and get the results that you and your family need and deserve. 

At Robenalt Law, we will thoroughly investigate the cause of the crash, and fight to bring those responsible to justice and obtain the compensation that you and your family need and deserve. 

Contact the experienced Ohio trucking accident attorneys at the Robenalt Law Firm today for a free consultation to discuss your case. Call 216-223-7535, complete our online form, or email trobenalt@robenaltlaw.com.

Tom Robenalt started his litigation career representing trucking companies at a large firm in Cleveland. For the past 25 years, he has used that experience to help victims and the families of those injured to secure compensation for trucking accidents.

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