A car accident can leave a person severely injured, unable to work and forced to pay for outstanding medical expenses he or she would not otherwise have accrued. To compensate accident victims for the harms a negligent party causes him or her, Kentucky law allows accident victims to pursue money via a personal injury claim. The courts allow victims to recover several types of damages, including lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering and emotional duress. One type of damages many victims try but fail to recover is punitive damages.

Unlike with compensatory damages, which the courts award to compensate victims for monetary losses, the courts award punitive damages to punish negligent parties. Though Kentucky courts do allow punitive damages, they are picky about who can receive them. FindLaw details instances in which punitive damages are necessary.

Per Kentucky Revised Statutes Title XXXVI. Statutory Actions and Limitations §411.184, an accident victim may recover punitive damages if he or she can prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that the defendant acted with fraud, malice or oppression. The statute further defines what each term means.

“Fraud,” according to the law, refers to the intentional deceit, misrepresentation or concealment of material knowledge, which the defendant possessed at the time of the incident. “Malice” occurs when the defendant’s conduct either suggests he or she intended to cause the victim harm or that he or she acted with a flagrant disregard for the victim’s wellbeing and with an understanding that his or her conduct would result in bodily harm or human death. “Oppression” refers to intentional conduct that is meant to subject the plaintiff to unjust and cruel hardship.

This article is for educational purposes only. You should not use it as legal advice.