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Ed Van Dorn
Ed Van Dorn
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Wrongful Death and Punitive Damages

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Can the family of a child killed in an auto accident caused by the reckless conduct of another driver sue that driver for punitive damages? Punitive damages are damages over and above what is required to compensate the victim for the loss. They are designed to punish the wrongdoer and set an example to deter others from similar conduct.

This is the question the Vermont Supreme Court will soon be answering. Reckless conduct is not simple negligence. Negligence can best be described as ordinary carelessness. Reckless conduct is more than that. It is conduct that is highly likely to result in the serious injury or death of another when the actor has little or no regard for those consequences. Driving 5 or 10 mph over the speed limit or failing to stop at a stop sign because you weren’t paying attention is simple negligence. Driving 100 mph through that stop sign when you know it is there is reckless. Should a driver who causes serious injury or death because of recklessness be liable to the injured person or the in the case of death the surviving family for punitive in addition to compenatory damages? What do you think? We are curious to know. Thanks for reading.

For more information on this subject, please refer to our section on Car and Motorcycle Accidents.