Over the course of the last decade, I've published in excess of 700 articles in the areas of personal injury, criminal defense, workers' compensation and insurance disputes, generally. If you can't find what you're looking for, feel free to contact me to discuss the details of your case and learn how I can help.

Can I Recover Punitive Damages After A Maryland Car Accident?

I’ve discussed at some length in other volumes of these Articles that, in typical personal injury case arising from a motor vehicle accident, two types of damage are recoverable: economic and non-economic. In a truly exceptional, outrageous, situation, a third type of damages might be recoverable: punitive damages.

Maryland law defines punitive damages as those designed to punish a defendant, and offer a disincentive for others to engage in similar conduct in the future.

In order to recover punitive damages, in a car accident scenario, the Plaintiff would need to prove by clear and convincing evidence, the defendant acted with actual malice. The law defines actual malice as “evil motive, intent to injure, or ill will”.

Can I Recover Punitive Damages After A Maryland Car Accident?

Since the overwhelming number of motor vehicle accidents are caused by the negligence, as opposed to the intent, of the at fault party, punitive damages are simply not available in the overwhelming number of cases. This is not to say that the victim of negligence in these situations is not angry, frustrated, offended, or perhaps even outraged. I Attorney Eric T. Kirk would suggest that this full gamut of emotions is commonplace. It is not the mental state of the victim that is considered in assessing whether punitive damages are suitable, however, but that of the at-fault party. It is only where an actor has a engaged in deliberate conduct designed to injure, that punitive damages are awardable.  In a unique and appropriate case, they may be recoverable.

The victory might be hollow. An injured person would be unlikely to get an insurance company to pay punitive damages. Motor vehicle accident insurance protects a driver from claims based on his or her negligent acts. The typical policy excludes coverage for intentional –e.g. malicious- acts.  Maryland’s highest court has decided that driving under the influence of alcohol and causing an accident, alone, is not proof of actual malice, and is insufficient to sustain a request for punitive damages. KOMORNIK v. SPARKS, 331 Md. 720 (1993).


I have handled and evaluated thousands of cases. I extend  a cost free strategy conference, evaluation and analysis process that I employ in every personal injury case brought to us. While it is impossible to fully and fairly evaluate the value of a personal injury claim during this initial encounter, we can lay the groundwork for that ultimate opinion. Contact me today to begin this process. 410 591 2835.