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When are Punitive Damages Available After an accident in Idaho?

— June 2, 2022

As a general rule larger amounts of compensation tend to be available to victims who have sustained very serious and life changing injuries.  

Boise, ID – While accidents happen on the roads in Idaho for a number of different reasons, some drivers engage in extremely dangerous behaviors. In accident cases where these kinds of dangerous behaviors are present, it is possible that the defendant will have to pay out punitive damages. This type of compensation is not related to the costs of things like property repairs and medical bills. Rather, punitive damages are meant to punish defendants who engage in specific problematic behaviors that are likely to harm the public. However, there are strict conditions placed on when a defendant can be made to pay out this type of compensation and a fact intensive analysis must take place. 

Procedure to ask for punitive damages

Idaho has certain procedures in place to limit when a case may result in an award of punitive damages. A motion has to be filed by the plaintiff’s attorney in the period before the trial begins, and the judge has to make a special finding based on the information contained in the motion to allow punitive damages. This finding includes behavior that is malicious, willful, intentional, or gross negligence by the defendant based on the facts and evidence presented. In a negligence case, it is unlikely that the defendant’s conduct will meet this standard.    

Limitations on punitive damages

The punitive damage award is decided by the judge assigned to the case rather than the jury. These damages are capped at the greater of either $250,000 or three times compensatory damages. This means that regardless of the defendant’s actions or the plaintiff’s specific losses, they can never be awarded more than this amount of punitive damages under Idaho state law. 

Other types of damages after an accident

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Because punitive damages are really a special type of compensation that may not be applicable to every accident case, victims should focus on discussing other kinds of damages with their lawyer as well. This can include compensatory or economic damages. These are the types of damages associated with property repairs, medical costs, lost wages and income, and other specific losses that the victim can show through their bills and documentation. Non-economic damages are also significant because the victim can ask for compensation that is relative to their physical pain, mental anguish, and other forms of trauma and suffering caused by the accident. As a general rule larger amounts of compensation tend to be available to victims who have sustained very serious and life changing injuries.

Assistance from a local accident lawyer is a site that helps people find local lawyers after an accident. Anyone who needs to meet with an attorney in Boise or other cities can browse the directory for more information. 

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