Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Have you been seriously injured by another person’s negligence or unlawful behavior? If you answered yes, and the actions of the person or entity that hurt you were atrocious, a skilled personal injury lawyer might be able to help you recover punitive damages. Unlike compensatory damages, which compensate the victim for actual damages or economic loss related to the injury (and are discussed in detail here), punitive damages are intended to 'punish' the wrongdoer. In some instances, punitive damages can be many times the amount awarded as compensatory damages. Laws relating to punitive damages vary from state to state, so discuss your potential personal injury case with your Los Angeles accident lawyer.
Punitive Damages in California
In California, for example, the judge or jury may award punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. In fact, California Civil Code § 3294 provides that a plaintiff may seek punitive damages “where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud or malice.” A savvy Los Angeles personal injury lawyer will work with you to prove that the person or business that injured you was aware of the probable dangerous consequences of his conduct, and that he willfully and deliberately failed to avoid those consequences.
Why Award Punitive Damages?
The motives behind punitive damages include punishing the defendant in a civil lawsuit and discouraging repeat behavior by the rest of society. They also serve to provide you, the victim, with money for necessary bills potentially not covered in compensatory damages. Be aware that the plaintiff bears the burden of proof in showing that punitive damages are necessary and deserved, which is another reason why it is crucial to hire skilled Los Angeles trial lawyers to help you recover all the money that your injuries allow.
For more information on punitive damages, compensatory damages, and/or any other legal issues relating to your personal injury case, contact the accident attorneys at Ghozland Law Firm today for a free, no obligation consultation.