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Ask an Orange County Personal Injury Attorney: What Are Punitive Damages?
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Ask an Orange County Personal Injury Attorney: What Are Punitive Damages?

Ask an Orange County Personal Injury Attorney: What Are Punitive Damages?

There are many different elements to a personal injury case. A victim of an accident can sue for both economic and noneconomic damages. A victim can sue for both past and estimated future medical costs. In some cases, punitive damages may be assessed as well. Today at The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker we are going to discuss what this means and what it may mean for your case.

If you have a personal injury case then we welcome your call to The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker at 800-333-0000 for a free legal consultation.

The definition of punitive damages

Punitive damages are awarded to a defendant in a personal injury case not to make up for economic or noneconomic damages, but to punish the defendant for their conduct. The purpose is to deter the defendant from making the same mistake in the future or acting in the same negligent way.

In some cases, the punitive damages are awarded in addition to the any type of compensatory damages, which include lost wages, property damage, and medical costs. Punitive damages are not generally issued for a simple breach but only for what are known as “bad faith” claims in which an insurance company refuses to pay a claim that they should have paid.

If a person is suing a corporate employer due to the actions that their employee took, then the only way punitive damages will be awarded is if the plaintiff’s attorney can prove that the employer knew about or approved the conduct that led to the accident.

Examples of situations in which punitive damages may be awarded

The plaintiff’s attorney not only has to prove their case to get punitive damages, but they must do so with “clear and convincing evidence.” In a typical car accident or other personal injury case, the plaintiff only needs to prove a “preponderance of the evidence” which essentially means they must prove that what they are arguing is more likely to have happened than to not have happened.

Comparatively, proving “clear and convincing evidence” is a harder burden of proof. It does not mean that it must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Think of it as needing to prove it about 75%. Some of the most common cases in which punitive damages are awarded include:

  • A car accident that involved drunk driving
  • Intentional torts such as assault and battery
  • Wrongful termination

If you have been involved in an accident then you may or may not be owed punitive damages. You may be owed economic or noneconomic damages. If you want to know more about your legal options and how we may be able to help you, contact The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker at 800-333-0000 for a free legal consultation.

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