Punitive damages, or exemplary damages, are often awarded to an accident victim in a personal injury lawsuit to set an example. Their purpose is deter the defendant and others from similar conduct and to punish the defendant. If you were seriously injured in an accident, you may be able to seek punitive damages.
Types of Damages
Compensatory damages are designed compensate the victim for economic loss related to the injury, such as hospital bills and lost wages. To receive compensatory damages, the plaintiff, or accident victim, has to prove to the judge or jury that a loss occurred and that it was attributable to the defendant
Punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer. In some cases, punitive damages are many times the amount awarded as compensatory damages.
The amount of a punitive damages awarded to an accident victim is based on a number of common factors, including:
- the character and nature of the defendant’s conduct
- how much the defendant has in assets (i.e. a large corporation vs an uninsured driver)
- how much harm other victims might suffer if this particular defendant is not punished, and
- the actual harm suffered by the plaintiff in the incident that gave rise to the current case.
Under California law (California Civil Code § 3294), 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.” Talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine whether 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, thereby resulting in your recovery of punitive damages.
For a free, no obligation consultation, contact the attorneys at Ghozland Law Firm today.