Leasing a car is an excellent alternative to buying, perhaps because you get to drive newer vehicles for less the cost of purchasing one. In addition, you do not have to worry about vehicle maintenance or committing to a single car for the next five years or so.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to get involved in an accident while driving a leased vehicle.
Due to a lack of ownership, there may be many legal complications in a leased vehicle accident case. The good news is that you may be eligible to recoup compensation, especially if the auto crash resulted from someone else’s negligence or wrongful actions.
What Damages Can You Recover After a Car Accident in A Leased Vehicle?
While you may qualify to recover compensation if you get injured in an accident in a leased vehicle, recoverable damages often depend on the circumstances surrounding your case.
However, fair compensation must adequately cover all compensatory damages. These often include:
- Economic damages – medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and other accident expenses. Economic damages are easily quantified in monetary terms and have tangible proof, such as paychecks and written bills.
- Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, mental trauma, loss of life’s enjoyment, inconvenience, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. Unlike economic damages, these damages are often harder to quantify and prove as they do not have a monetary value attached to them.
Besides compensatory damages, those who suffer injuries while driving a leased vehicle may sometimes be awarded punitive damages by the court.
So, What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages, sometimes referred to as exemplary damages, often apply if there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the defendant’s gross negligence or despicable behavior resulted in the claimant’s injuries.
The purpose of these damages is to punish the at-fault party and discourage others from participating in such malicious, vindictive, willful, or reckless conduct while driving in the future.
There are many different acts that may qualify as gross negligence or misconduct. These include drunk driving, excessive overspeeding, reckless driving, knowingly driving when your medical condition can cause them to fall asleep, driving under the influence of illegal drugs, among others.
How Are Punitive Damages Calculated?
Punitive damages are usually granted in addition to compensatory damages. However, there is no specific formula for calculating the maximum punitive damages the victim should be awarded.
While personal injury laws vary from one state to another, most states limit the amount of compensation you get as punitive damages the claimant can receive, unlike in other types of damages.
In most cases, punitive damages are capped at $500,000 or three times the value of economic damages, whichever is greater. However, punitive damages may be proportionate to compensatory damages in some states.
How Do You Get Punitive Damages After an Accident with A Leased Car?
While punitive damages are part of car accident claims, you may not receive them if you accept the first offer from the fault party or their insurer. That’s why you should never approach settlement negotiations alone after an accident in a leased car.
The best thing to do is to hire a skilled personal injury lawyer. Backed with years of experience and lots of legal resources, your lawyer will help you explore the possibilities of recovering punitive damages.
Better still, they will help you prepare enough evidence to prove that the other driver’s gross negligence or misconduct caused the accident, and their behavior during the accident warrants punitive damages.
If necessary, your lawyer can also help you appeal if you feel the judge awarded unreasonable punitive damages.