Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Cases in Los AngelesUpdated on Monday 20th March 2017
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Punitive damages are payable by the defendant as a consequence of reckless or inappropriate behavior. They are intended to provide a lesson and prevent the guilty party from engaging in such behavior in the future. In California, punitive damages can be imposed in addition to the compensatory damages the defendant already has to pay to the plaintiff.
These types of damages are common in cases where negligent or reckless behavior was shown on the part of the defendant, like in car accident claims. However, they can also apply in assault or battery cases, including sexual assault.
A Los Angeles personal injury attorney can help assess your case and determine whether or not you can also claim punitive damages from the defendant.
The law on punitive damages in California, explained by Los Angeles personal injury attorneys
The California Civil Code regulates the manner in which a victim is entitled to receive punitive damages. The Code states that they can be awarded in cases where a contractual breach exists and when it can be proved that the defendant is guilty of fraud, malice or oppression. The additional damages are awarded to the plaintiff for the purpose of punishing the defendant further for his or her actions.
Malice is the act that can most generally be associated with personal injury accidents as it is defined as an intentional action on the part of the defendant to cause injury to the plaintiff. In order to be accused of malice, the defendant must also show a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others. Oppression is the act of putting another individual through unjust hardship in a conscious manner and a willful disregard of his or her rights. Fraud, more often used in contractual breaches, is the intentional deceit or misinterpretation of facts with the purpose of depriving another individual of his or her lawful rights and/or possessions. Under the right circumstances, punitive damages may be asked for in these three acts.
Our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys invite you to watch a comprehensive video about punitive damages:
Plaintiffs entitled to claim punitive damages
In order to obtain punitive damages, the plaintiff will need to provide clear and convincing evidence regarding the actions of the defendant. A lawyer who is accustomed to obtaining these types of additional benefits can help you make your case in such a way that you can prove you deserve to obtain additional punitive damages for your losses or suffering in the accident.
The State of California will not allow for the use of punitive damages in all cases. However, a lawyer may assess your case and see if they are available under the California Civil Code. Proof of actual damage is mandatory in order for the punitive damages to be imposed in a personal injury case. These types of damages will not be awarded in a vehicle accident case for example if the defendant did intentionally and maliciously hit the plaintiff but did not cause any bodily injuries.
If you were the victim of abuse, business torts, intentional torts or car and truck accidents in which the defendant can be accused of oppression, fraud or malice then you should pursue your right to obtain exceptional compensations.
Contact our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys for more information on how we can assist you.