California Law on Punitive Damages

When working with an attorney after a personal injury, it’s important to understand your rights and what damages you’re entitled to. When you’ve been injured, you’re going through a stressful time trying to keep up with medical appointments, medical expenses, and healing.

Punitive damages are one thing that you may be entitled to compensation for. If you’re working with a personal injury lawyer, be sure you understand California law on punitive damages and what you should expect.

What are punitive damages?

Punitive damages are compensation that a plaintiff may be entitled to if they have been harmed by egregious conduct. This means that the defendant was acting with reckless disregard for the well-being of the plaintiff and others around, and needs to be taught a lesson. The point of these damages is to have enough of an effect on the defendant that this type of behavior will not happen again.

Your California personal injury lawyer should be well-versed in punitive damages law. In order to be entitled to punitive damages in California, the following must have occurred:

There must be clear and convincing evidence that the defendant is guilty of oppression (despicable conduct that subjects a person to cruelty regardless of their rights), fraud (intentional misrepresentation or deceit), or malice (intent by the defendant to cause injury to the plaintiff or a conscious disregard of the safety of the plaintiff).

In what cases could punitive damages be awarded to the plaintiff?

Some of the most common cases we’ve worked with and gotten punitive damages for our clients include car accidents where the driver at fault was impaired by drugs or alcohol, assault and battery or abuse, wrongful termination of employment, or fraud within business dealings.

Again, the point of punitive damages is to discourage this type of behavior from occurring again from the defendant. There will need to be a higher standard of proof required to receive compensation for these types of damages, and your case will take longer. However, if you believe that you are entitled to punitive damages, or that the defendant should indeed be punished for their behavior, The May Firm can help you with your case.

If you feel that any of these punishable issues were present in your injury or case, be sure to talk to your attorney about seeking punitive damages intended to punish the defendant for their actions. Call The May Firm today if you’re seeking a lawyer with extensive knowledge in punitive damages.