Are Punitive Damages Available in Arizona Truck Accident Claims?

June 10, 2020

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by the negligence of a truck driver or trucking company, you need to know what steps to take to recover compensation. Importantly, you need to understand what kind of compensation is available for these cases. Aside from compensation for medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and pain and suffering, punitive damages may also be available for the victims. You need to understand what punitive damages are and under what circumstance they are awarded.

Punitive Damages in Truck Accident Claims

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are awarded in cases where there have been grossly negligent or intentional actions on the part of a defendant involved in a truck accident claim. This type of conduct rises above typical negligence involved in these cases. Punitive damages are designed to punish the grossly negligent party for their conduct and to deter them and others from behaving similarly in the future.

It is important to understand that not all truck accident claims in Arizona result in punitive damages being awarded to victims. Again, these damages typically only existing cases when there has been particularly egregious actions on the part of the truck driver or trucking company involved.

What Must Be Proven to Get Punitive Damages in Truck Cases

In order for punitive damages to be awarded in an Arizona truck accident case, the plaintiff (and their attorney) will need to prove the truck driver or company was grossly negligent in their duties or whether they had an intent to harm the plaintiff. In Arizona, there will need to be “clear and convincing evidence” that “evil motives or willful and wanton disregard for the interests of others” was present in the defendant’s wrongful actions (as adopted by the Arizona Supreme Court).

Clear and convincing evidence is the highest burden of proof possible in civil lawsuits, and there will need to be evidence that the plaintiff’s claim is “highly probable.”

Some examples of gross negligence on the part of a trucking driver or trucking company can include proof that the driver was operating while:

  • Impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • Distracted by their phones or other devices
  • Willfully disregarding hours of service requirements

It may also be proven that a driver willfully caused harm to others around them. This can include proving instances of road rage while operating the semi-truck.

As stated above, punitive damages are not always awarded in Arizona 18-wheeler accident cases. These damages will only be considered if there is clear and convincing evidence of negligence or willful misconduct. If these damages are considered, there is currently no cap in place to limit how much a jury may award. The Arizona constitution expressly prohibits the existence of limitations on any type of damages awarded in personal injury or wrongful death claims. The limits of punitive damages in these cases will largely be determined by the severity of the injuries, the actions of the defendant, and the ability of an experienced truck accident attorney to convince a jury of the facts.

Contact A Truck Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one had been injured in a truck accident that was caused by the negligence of a truck driver or trucking company In Arizona, you need to seek assistance from an attorney immediately. At Torgenson Law, our qualified and experienced team is ready to conduct a thorough investigation of your case in order to secure any compensation you are entitled to, including possible punitive damages. You can contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or calling (602) 759-0012.