A Need for Punitive Damages: What Do They Cover?
Let’s say that you were injured in a car accident, but this wasn’t just any car accident. A driver decided to get behind the wheel of a car completely drunk, which led to your accident. This was a display of gross negligence. Let’s take another example: You’re driving along and another driver lashes out in a violent case of road rage and forces you to crash, leading to extremely serious injuries. In either one of these cases of gross negligence, you could experience a special type of damages known as punitive damages.
What Are Punitive Damages?
In most cases that turn into civil lawsuits, these lawsuits are used as a way to put the plaintiff back into a position they were in before the accident occurred. This means that, if a car was damaged, these damages should pay for the car to be repaired. If you were injured so badly that you missed out on time at work or you had extensive medical bills, you should have these things paid for, as well as wages reimbursed. These are compensatory damages and are very common in personal injury cases.
Punitive damages are a lot different. They are not meant to compensate the victim, but instead, deter bad actions on future defendants and make sure that a defendant is punished for their wrongdoing. Take, for instance, a case where a drug manufacturer lies and says that there are no side effects to a drug, and then people experience side effects that cause them injury. If the judge in the case wanted to deter these actions and stop other manufacturers from doing the same thing in the future, they may order $1,000,000 in punitive damages to deter them from doing so, as well as other companies who may make the same mistake.
The court will make many determinations when punitive damages are being decided. The court usually submits an analysis to determine if punitive damages should play a role in your case, which means looking at how much you are requesting in damages and how bad the behavior was by the company or defendant. This means that you must be able to prove just how severe your injuries were, including the psychological effects that these injuries had since your accident.
Limits on Punitive Damages
Of course, because punitive damage requests can sometimes get out of hand, there are limits made in these cases. Some states tend to cap the dollar amount of damages you are able to receive, such as not awarding more than five times the actual damages in a case. The United States Supreme Court has even stepped in and set a limit on damages, ensuring that they do not exceed a 10:1 ratio. Though punitive damages are meant to punish, they cannot be incredibly unfair for no reason.
Have you experienced extreme distress or emotional trauma due to somebody’s negligence and you believe that you are entitled to punitive damages? You may have a case. Depending on the circumstances in your personal injury case, you may be entitled to various types of compensation. Call us for more information on how we can help you, at the Los Angeles Injury Group, by calling 310-954-7248.