When someone is injured due to another’s negligence, they may be entitled to receive money damages for their losses. While money damages are intended to compensate the injured person for their losses, punitive damages are a bit different. Punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct from happening again. In this blog post, we will discuss when punitive damages can be awarded in California personal injury cases.
Punitive damages are additional monetary damages that may be awarded when a defendant has acted with an intention to harm, engaged in wreckless behavior without regard to potential harm to others, or with fraud or malice towards the plaintiff. Fraud occurs when a defendant makes false statements or omits information on purpose with the intention of deceiving the plaintiff. Malice includes intentional acts done out of ill will, hatred, spite or a desire to injure another person.
In order for punitive damages to be awarded in a California personal injury case, you must prove that the defendant’s actions were so egregious that they should be punished and not just have to compensate for the injuries they caused. This means that you must prove that the defendant knowingly engaged in a wrongful act and had actual knowledge that his or her actions could harm you. Against a defendant that is an individual, these types of cases often involve extreme recklessness or intentional wrongdoing, such as drunk driving or excessive speeding on public roads. When the plaintiff is a company or organization, there are sometimes deliberate actions they have taken to increase profits at the expense of safety. If proven, these actions would likely result in punitive damages awarded from a jury.
Punitive damage awards can vary greatly depending on the facts of each case and how egregious the defendant’s conduct was found to be by a jury. They can range anywhere from hundreds of dollars up into millions of dollars (or more), depending on how serious the misconduct was and what kind of harm it caused you. It is important to note that even if you win your case and receive an award for punitive damages, there is no guarantee that you will actually get paid those funds because many defendants do not have enough assets to cover such large amounts of money.
If you have been injured due to another’s negligence and believe that punitive damages may apply in your case, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who can evaluate your situation and determine whether punitive damages might be available in your particular case. Your lawyer will also help ensure all applicable deadlines are met so that your rights remain protected throughout your case proceedings. Contact The Offices of Scott Righthand for a consultation and we can help you navigate these complex legal issues so that you can pursue all possible avenues of recovery available under California law.
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