In Wisconsin, punitive damages are limited and are not available in a negligence action arising from the typical automobile accident. Punitives are available in intentional tort situations; in situations such as when the accident is caused by a drunk driver. While there was not an attempt to hurt anyone, the risk that was created by driving drunk is that it is treated as more than mere negligence essentially as intentional conduct.
If punitive damages are awarded with insurance companies cover it?
Insurance companies only cover negligence. Most insurance policies exclude punitive damages.
Recovering punitive damages in a personal injury lawsuit
The only way to recover for punitive damages is by filing a lawsuit. A lawsuit must be filed for the injuries that occurred and for compensatory damages as discussed earlier. If there is to be a claim for punitive damages it has to be stated up front in the lawsuit papers.
Considering the implications, an important decision has to be made. If the responsible party doesn’t have significant assets, their only hope is to recover through a negligence claim to involve their insurance company.