Subsequent to an auto accident, a non-liable, injured party is generally entitled to recover damages in a lawsuit from the person who caused the car accident. In a situation where a person dies from a car accident, the surviving heirs or estate of the deceased may sue for the wrongful death of the decedent.
Recently, singer-actress Brandy was allegedly involved in a car accident, in which another driver was killed. The parents of the decedent has filed a lawsuit against Brandy for wrongful death, and are seeking $50 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Read the full story here at cnn.com’s Law Center.
Compensatory damges typically include costs such as medical expenses, lost wages, and the repair or replacement of property. A person is liable for wrongful death if that person’s negligence causes another person’s death. So in this case, the parents of the decedent are seeking compensatory damages from Brandy for the wrongful death of their daughter.
In addition, the story indicates that the parents are also seeking punitive damages against Brandy. Punitive damages are awarded to a plaintiff in order to punish a defendant and to deter the defendant from engaging in similar activities in the future. Generally, punitive damages are only permitted when the actions alleged were intentionally done. In some occassions, punitive damages are awarded in situations where gross negligence, or reckless disregard is proven.
Because punitive damages are meant to serve as a deterent, such dollar amounts are usually calculated in such a way to be financially impactful to the defendant. This may help to explain the high amount of damages that are sought against defendant Brandy.
That said however, it will be up to the jury to determine whether Brandy is liable, and whether her conduct tantamounts to reckless disregard, thereby justifying punitive damages.