But there is another category of damages called "punitive" damages.  You may be wondering, if this trucking company allowed a person who was driving on a suspended license to operate this truck, isn't there something that can be done to punish the company in a civil (as opposed to a criminal) case?  In theory, yes there is.  They are called punitive damages.  Punitive damages don't compensate the victim or her family for anything they have "lost" as a result of the incident.  Rather, they are designed to punish the defendant and make an example of him to deter others from acting like he acted (or "it" acted, in the case of a company).  Would punitive damages be available here in this case?  That depends.  To get punitive damages, a plaintiff must show that the defendant engaged in "willful or wanton conduct, or such recklessness as evinces a conscious disregard for the safety of others."  I am not certain that driving on a suspended license, in and of itself, would lead to punitive damages in this case.  A link must be shown between the "bad" behavior and the incident. Maybe that can be shown here.  In addition to driving on a suspended license, Mr. Risher was also charged with recklessness.  So it is possible that he operated the truck in such a way that a jury would conclude that what he did was "reckless" or evidenced "a conscious disregard for the safety of" Ms. Whitaker.  This is where it will be critical to thoroughly investigate what caused this horrible accident.

Kevin W. Mottley
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Richmond, VA trial lawyer dedicated to handling brain injuries, car accidents and other serious injury claims
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