There are three types of damages that can be awarded in a personal injury case: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. Economic damages are awarded to personal injury victims who have incurred expenses or suffered losses as a result of their injuries. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are awarded to victims who have experienced pain and suffering due to their injuries. But, when can a personal injury victim be awarded punitive damages? Here's what you should know:
What Are Punitive Damages?
Economic and non-economic damages are awarded to compensate a victim for something he has experienced or lost because of his injuries. However, punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant for his negligent behavior and deter him from acting in this manner again in the future.
When Are Punitive Damages Awarded?
California law states that punitive damages can be awarded if it is proven with clear and convincing evidence that the defendant is guilty of malice. The law also states that a defendant is guilty of acting with malice if one of the following conditions is met:
He intended to harm the plaintiff
He did not intend to hurt the plaintiff, but he knew that his actions could hurt someone and ignored these potential consequences.
However, personal injury victims shouldn't expect to automatically be awarded punitive damages if one of these conditions is met. The court will only award punitive damages if there are aggravating circumstances that make the defendant's conduct far more negligent than what is typically seen in personal injury cases.
For example, the court may not award punitive damages in a car accident case where the defendant ran a red light and crashed into the plaintiff's car. However, the court may award punitive damages in this type of case if the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident. In this case, the court may consider the defendant's intoxication an aggravating circumstance.
It's important to note that personal injury cases can be unpredictable. Therefore, no plaintiff should ever assume that he or she will be awarded any type of compensation, especially punitive damages.
If you have been injured, contact James Rush at Rush Injury Law. James Rush is known as an aggressive personal injury attorney who will fight tirelessly to recover the compensation that you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call our office at 415-897-4801 or fill out the online form on our website www.rushinjurylaw.com.