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What, exactly, are punitive damages?

Posted by John Harris on Sat, Dec 04, 2010 @ 12:10 PM

Compensatory damages may include reimbursement for property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other actual loss. Punitive damages are rarely available in an automobile accident cases unless the accident is a result of a drunk driver. Compensatory damages are to reimburse an injured person for property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering.

What, exactly, are punitive damages?

To understand punitive damages, let’s start with compensatory damages. Usually a jury will determine compensatory damages before they determine punitive damages. The purpose of compensatory damages is to reimburse up with the injured party in the position they would have been if they had not been injured. Compensatory damages may include reimbursement for property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other actual loss.

So what, exactly, are punitive damages? If the jury determines that a defendant’s conduct was way beyond negligence or simply recklessness and if jurors believe that evidence shows that the behavior was willful, wanton, or intentionally malicious, a judge may permit them to award punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages are imposed both to punish the defendant for egregious, often near-criminal, actions and to deter the defendant, and others, from acting similarly in the future. Punitive damages are sometimes called exemplary damages. Their purpose being to make an example of the kind of conduct that will not be tolerated.

People injured through no fault of their own may receive punitive damages in cases of outrageous misconduct involving civil rights, employment, environmental damage, fraud, health care, insurance, intentional acts, nuisance, personal injury, premises liability, product liability, securities, sexual harassment, and workplace safety.

Many states and special interests want to limit or eliminate punitive damages in legal cases. Reckless, malicious, or irresponsible conduct would be rewarded, not punished. In Virginia, the politicians have Punitive damages at $350,000. The danger here is that some irresponsible corporations would consider $350,000 as simply a cost of doing business in some cases. I suspect there are corporations out there, that would consider dumping nuclear waste in your backyard if they could do so for the mirror $350,000 punishment.

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HOW TO FIND THE "RIGHT LAWYER"
10 Things you must do after an auto accident
3 Things To Do BEFORE Talking to an Insurance Adjuster
Several Minivans Fare Poorly in Safety Tests

Topics: accident, auto accident, insurance, personal injury, medical, drunk driver

Auto Accident information to have before a personal injury occurs.

Posted by John Harris on Thu, Dec 02, 2010 @ 12:11 PM

Virginia's Bureau of Insurance has prepared this guide to help you understand insurance and get the coverage that best suits your needs in the event of an auto accident. You may need more insurance than you think and it will probably not cost you as much as you think it will.  This guide explains basic auto insurance coverages to have before a personal injury happens and will help you decide how much insurance coverage you need.

Consumer's Guide to Auto Insurance [PDF]

Topics: insurance, personal injury, accident accident

Consumer's Guide to Homeowner's Insurance

Posted by John Harris on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 @ 11:39 AM

Virginia's Bureau of Insurance has prepare this guide to help you understand homeowner's insurance and get the coverage that best suits your needs. This guide explains the basic coverages that are included in homeowner's policies and the types of homeowner's policies that are available.

Consumer's Guide to Homeowner's Insurance [PDF]

Topics: General

Pedestrian Safety

Posted by John Harris on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 @ 11:14 AM

Use only designated pedestrian or roadway crossings to cross tracks and obey all crossing warning signals.


Never race a train. It can take a mile or more to stop a train, so a locomotive engineer who suddenly spots you ahead has little chance to miss you.


Trains overhang the tracks by at least three feet in both directions and loose straps hanging from rail cars may extend even further. The train may hit you if you are in the right-of-way next to the tracks.


The only safe place to cross is at a designated public crossing with either a crossbuck, flashing red lights or a gate.


Do not cross the tracks immediately after a train passes. A second train might be blocked by the first. Trains can come from either direction. Wait until you can see clearly around the first train in both directions.


Flashing red lights signal that a train is approaching from either direction. Never walk around or behind lowered gates at a crossing. Do not cross the tracks until the lights have stopped flashing and it is safe to do so.


Do not use railroad trestles for hunting, fishing or bungee jumping because there is only enough clearance on the tracks for a train to pass.


Be aware that trains do not follow set schedules so a train could come at any time.


Do not walk, run, cycle or operate all terrain vehicles (ATVs) on railroad tracks, railroad rights-of-way or through tunnels.


Never walk down a train track; it's illegal and it's dangerous. By the time a locomotive engineer can see a trespasser or a vehicle on the tracks, it is too late. The train cannot stop quickly enough to avoid a collision.

Topics: FELA Claims: Don’t Let Your Employer Railroad Your

Motor Vehicle Safety at Railroad Crossings

Posted by John Harris on Sun, Nov 28, 2010 @ 11:12 AM

In the United States there are more than 250,000 highway-rail grade crossings. With as many as 96% of train accidents and injuries occurring at highway rail crossings, drivers, pedestrians and the railroad industry all benefit from steps that produce increased safety on and around crossings. These tips may help you prevent a train accident and the catastrophic injuries that often result from them. They may also help you determine a potential means of recovery if you or someone you know has been hurt or killed in a railroad/roadway crossing accident.

The majority of accidents at crossings are vehicle/train collisions. Safety experts recommend the following steps to prevent vehicle related injuries at railroad crossings.

Expect a train at any time on any track. Be certain you can stop safely if a train is approaching.


Do not rely on train whistles or horns to warn you. In-cab noise may mask the train's warning.


Do not attempt to cross the tracks unless you are certain the vehicle you are driving will clear on the other side. Never shift gears while crossing railroad tracks. Remember, the train is three feet wider than the tracks on both sides.


Be cautious of obstructions like vegetation or buildings that may block the view of an approaching train.


Be alert to weather and how it affects conditions at the crossings. Snow and fog can all effect crossing safety.


Look up and down the tracks. It is difficult to judge the distance and approach speed of a train as it moves toward the crossing. If in doubt, be safe, stop, and wait.


Slow down and be prepared to stop at the first railroad warning sign.


Do not drive around lowered gates. Call the number posted on or near the crossing signal or your local law enforcement agency if you suspect a signal is malfunctioning.


If your vehicle stalls on a crossing, immediately get everyone out and far away from the tracks. You should move away from the tracks in the direction from which the train is approaching. Then, call your local law enforcement agency for assistance.


At a multiple track crossing waiting for a train to pass, watch out for a second train on the other tracks, approaching in either direction.


Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly. Even if the locomotive engineer sees you, a freight train moving at 55 miles per hour can take a mile or more to stop once the emergency brakes are applied.


Do not be fooled by an optical illusion - the train you see is closer and moving faster than you think. If you see a train approaching, wait for it to go by before you proceed across the tracks.

Topics: FELA Claims: Don’t Let Your Employer Railroad Your

In a letter to the editor of the Free Lance-Star, John Harris explains why a lawsuit helps limit suffering in an airplane crash.

Posted by John Harris on Thu, Nov 25, 2010 @ 12:33 PM

In a letter to the editor of the Free Lance-Star, John Harris explains why a lawsuit helps limit suffering in an airplane crash.

plane, crash, airplane crash, plane crash, people killed, wrongful death, plane crash

Topics: General

Senior Citizens Handbook

Posted by John Harris on Mon, Nov 15, 2010 @ 11:45 AM

This handbook provides information on the following: financial assistance, social security, pensions, veterans benefits, medicaid, medicare, long-term care, alzheimer's, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult day care, elder abuse, elderly, disabled, mother, father, senior, citizen, handbook

Senior Citizens Handbook [PDF]

Topics: General

Code of the City of Fredericksburg

Posted by John Harris on Wed, Nov 10, 2010 @ 12:51 PM

http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=12340&stateId=46&stateName=Virginia

Topics: General

Stafford County Code

Posted by John Harris on Tue, Nov 09, 2010 @ 12:55 PM

http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=11500&stateId=46&stateName=Virginia

Topics: General

Spotsylvania County Code

Posted by John Harris on Mon, Nov 08, 2010 @ 11:56 AM

http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=12105&stateId=46&stateName=Virginia

Topics: General