Punitive Damages And Personal Injury

By Prev Info - February 10, 2022

 If you look on any website or blog that is operated by personal injury attorneys Los Angeles you may well come across the words 'punitive damages'. This is something that your attorney can fight for but which is not always applicable and because of this it depends entirely upon the case in question. When an attorney successfully delivers punitive damages, it can often result in a lot of money for their clients and to this end they are worth applying for. But what exactly are they and how do they work?

A Los Angeles personal injury attorney explains that when it comes to punitive damages they are a separate entity from any other type of financial compensation in that they are put in place to punish the negligent party financially, and are awarded for that reason. Whereas other forms of compensation are awarded for things like medical expenses, loss of wages, and pain and suffering, punitive damages are awarded on top of these, but are for no specific reason other than to hit the negligent party hard in the pocket.

In what type of personal injury claim could punitive damages be awarded?

Punitive damages can be awarded in all types of cases but it does depend on the severity of the personal injury and the intent of the defendant to cause harm. For example, take the case of a car accident. In normal circumstances punitive damages might be difficult to file because generally speaking the guilty party must have done something heinous and also must have been proven to have done it deliberately. 

Although punitive damages may indeed pertain to gross negligence, the guilty party must have acted with such blatant disregard for life that they couldn't care less. A DUI case for example may open a defendant up to punitive damages because the driver knew that what they were doing was wrong in the eyes of the law (i.e. drink driving) and were therefore purposefully putting other road users at risk.

 In a wrongful death case for example, a skilled team of Los Angeles personal injury lawyers may instruct one of their representatives to file for punitive damages if an employer knowingly operated their business in dangerous circumstances that ultimately led to the death of an employee.

What monetary amount can a claimant receive for punitive damages in a personal injury case?

Firstly in the state of Los Angeles, unlike some other states, there in no cap on punitive damages, therefore it all depends upon the size of the company and their net worth. For example, punitive damages are more likely to be higher in value when they are filed against a large car manufacturer, than they are from a small business owner.

How does a team of experienced LA personal injury attorneys file for punitive damages?

A representing lawyer must split the case in two. In the first part the attorney must ask the judge and the jury to look at the question of liability and possible compensation to be awarded. Then secondly, the issues of punitive damages can be raised. Clearly if in a trial the judge or the jury decide that there are to be no punitive damages when looking at liability and compensation, then there is no need for the second part of the case and that part becomes null and void. 

If you are in any doubt as to whether you can file for punitive damages, then a skilled Los Angeles personal injury lawyer will have a good understanding of the state law and can advise.

As you can see, the case of whether or not a victim or family of a victim can file for punitive damages is not in any way black and white. In fact, it depends very much upon the circumstances surrounding the incident. 

One thing's for sure though... the right team of Los Angeles personal injury lawyers will always fight to achieve maximum compensation for their clients, so if there is an opportunity to file a claim for punitive damages, then they will do so.





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