As this blog has discussed before, the victim of a car accident or other motor vehicle accident may be able to pursue compensation for their out-of-pocket losses as well as their non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Ordinarily, it is appropriate for someone who caused an accident through human carelessness or oversight to pay for these damages. Sometimes, though, this just simply is not enough, because it does not reinforce how serious the misconduct of the person who caused the accident was.
For instance, drunk driving accidents really should never happen since, by now, anyone who gets behind a wheel knows how dangerous it is to do so while drunk. Someone who chooses to do so anyway is arguably more than just careless; that person has little regard for the safety and wellbeing of others.
Under Nevada law, punitive or exemplary damages may be sought following a drunk driving accident precisely because such accidents should never happen if a driver is being even remotely safety conscious. Punitive damages may be available following other traffic accidents as well. As the name implies, this extra compensation is not designed so much to cover a victim's loss as it is to make an example out of or punish the person responsible for the accident for flagrantly poor choices.
Specifically, someone seeking out punitive damages has to show clearly and convincingly that the person who caused the accident did so either intentionally or with almost outright contempt for the rights of other people. Limits to how much one can get in punitive damages may apply, and victims should, on a more general note, discuss the possibility of obtaining punitive damages with their attorneys.