The courts awarded a plaintiff $100,000 following a hit and run accident. Firstly, it should be noted that awards for punitive damages are relatively rare, and usually only occur in cases involving relatively extreme conduct. Generally, punitive damages awards are reserved for wrongful acts that are so “malicious and outrageous that they are deserving of punishment on their own”.
In this case, a pedestrian was jaywalking when a vehicle crossed the yellow line and struck them on their left side. The pedestrian had been looking to their right, as that was the direction traffic in her lane was actually coming from. The driver continued driving. He later denied being the driver of his vehicle or that his vehicle was involved in the incident, despite a slew of witnesses and evidence that showed otherwise.
The judge decided that the driver’s actions were “worthy of denunciation and retribution” beyond the compensatory award for injury. The driver had not only failed to stop after striking a pedestrian and been dishonest about their involvement in the accident, but also had been driving while their driver’s license was suspended.
This was a tragic case that involved a young woman who suffered significant injuries, including a head injury and a fractured skull. This incident was made worse by the actions of a driver who refused to take responsibility for their actions.