Sometimes, receiving compensation for your medical bills or pain and suffering after an accident is simply not enough. When the person who caused your injury acted in an especially reckless or outrageous way, you may be able to punish them for their actions by seeking punitive damages in your personal injury lawsuit.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Most damages in a lawsuit are meant to make an injured person whole again, meaning that financially they are in the same place—or better—than they would have been had they not been injured. These types of damages, known as compensatory damages, award a person the money they need to pay medical bills, make up for lost wages or income, or reimburse them for the pain they suffered as a result of the injury.
In comparison, punitive damages do just that—they punish. These damages do not depend on how much a person suffered or lost because of an injury; instead, they are meant to cause the defendant to think twice before committing the same act again.
When are Punitive Damages Allowed?
Not every injury case allows the plaintiff to seek punitive damages. According to the California statute, punitive damages are only allowed when a lawsuit does not stem from a contract, and when the defendant is guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice.
In layman’s terms, this means that a case for punitive damages can only be made when a person caused an injury because of their cruel, intentional, or extraordinarily reckless behavior. The average car accident lawsuit does not fit this criteria, because most accidents are not caused intentionally. However, a car accident caused by a chronic drunk driver with a suspended license may qualify for punitive damages. In the same way, a company that purposefully allows a defective product to be sold to the public can be liable for punitive damages which may total many millions more than their compensatory damages.
When you are faced with a complicated lawsuit and want to prove that you deserve punitive damages for your injuries, you need competent, professional legal advice. At the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., we help accident victims by thoroughly investigating their cases. Our experienced staff of legal and medical professionals help you recover your losses, including medical expenses, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, and more.
For a free consultation with a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, call (310) 289-2600 or use our online contact form to have your case reviewed today.