Request a Free Consultation

Can I Be Awarded Punitive Damages After a Semi-Truck Accident?

Updated February 23, 2023 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

Can I Be Awarded Punitive Damages After a Semi-Truck Accident?

Semi-trucks and other large vehicles are common on highways throughout Indiana. When truck drivers act negligently, they can endanger those on the road around them resulting in crashes causing significant harm to themselves and others. Semi-truck accidents vary in level of severity but are often life-altering both emotionally and physically.

What are Punitive Damages?

In personal injury accidents, victims are often rewarded compensation in the form of medical expenses, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and lost income or wages. Punitive damages are different. Punitive damages can be defined by damages exceeding simpler compensation. They are awarded to the victim to punish the defendant and are assessed and awarded through the legal process. Cases in which punitive damages may be awarded include but are not limited to the following:

  • Intentional misconduct: defendant had knowledge their actions could result in injury or damage.
  • Negligence: defendant was so reckless that they consciously disregarded safety or threat to a person’s life.

Additionally, the commercial trucking company can be held liable for punitive damages based on the actions of its drivers.

Punitive Damages vs Compensatory Damages

If you’ve been a victim of a semi-truck accident, it’s important to understand the difference between punitive damages and compensatory damages.

Punitive damages are awarded by a court against the defendant solely to punish them for negligent behavior. Punitive damages can be the most difficult to obtain due to the circumstances in which the victim has to prove negligence, etc.

Compensatory damages are the most concrete type of damages. These include damages covering lost income, property damages, medical care, physical and emotional pain and suffering, and loss of companionship.

Proving Negligence in a Semi-Truck Accident

Proving a driver acted negligently resulting in an accident can be difficult. The attorneys at Wilson Kehoe Winingham have the experience to provide you with the legal representation to fight for the compensation you deserve. Typically, to determine who is at fault, the insurance agency will investigate the accident. In an Indiana Truck Accident, many parties can be held responsible including the truck driver, employer of the truck driver, owner of the truck, or in some cases the manufacturer. Your attorney will investigate the accident to provide you with the best opportunity to receive compensation due to negligence.

 Steps to Take Following an Accident 

Following an accident involving an 18-wheeler vehicle, it is crucial you follow these steps to build your legal case:

  1. Call 911. Your health and safety are the top priority. If you don’t believe you have sustained any injuries, it’s still important to dispatch the police in order for a proper police report to be filed.
  2. Seek a medical evaluation. Even if you or other passengers involved in the accident don’t feel or appear to be hurt, some injuries don’t show immediate symptoms.
  3. Properly document evidence at the scene of the accident. If you’re uninjured and able to move around, document the scene by taking photos.
  4. Ask for contact information from witnesses. If you’re able to approach any witnesses for their contact information, this will be beneficial to building your case.
  5. Do not admit fault or liability following the accident.
  6. Contact the commercial semi-truck accident lawyers at Wilson Kehoe Winingham.

Dealing With Insurance Companies

The responsibility of the insurance company to is identify fault and pay the minimum necessary to compensate you for the accident, so be careful what information you share with them. We recommended letting your attorney deal with the insurance company on your behalf.

Contact the Attorneys at Wilson Kehoe Winingham Today

With the many factors at play in semi-truck accidents, they can quickly become complicated. It is in your greatest interest to be represented by a law firm with the experience to build a strong case. If you or a loved one have been impacted by a semi-truck accident, contact the lawyers at WKW today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form today.

Contact Us

Let WKW put our experience to work for you. Contact us for your free case evaluation.


Or, call us today at (317) 920-6400

Located In Indianapolis
Back to Top