What Are Punitive Damages?
In a civil case, if the claims of the lawsuit are proven by the plaintiff, they can receive damages. Damages are compensatory or punitive. Under compensatory damages, the plaintiff can receive damages that cover either economic or non-economic issues like loss of earnings or pain and suffering. However, in some civil cases, the plaintiff can also receive punitive damages. This article will provide a brief summary of punitive damages, but given the complexity of civil cases, it is vital that you have the aid of an experienced civil attorney.
Detailed Look at Punitive Damages
In California, punitive damages are in place to deter or discourage the behavior of the defendant. For example, in a personal injury case, punitive damages would act as a way to discourage the action that resulted in the injury. The damages are a deterrent not just for the defendant, but the public as well. The plaintiff would not sue for punitive damages as a means to compensate themselves – that would be done through compensatory damages.
Who Can Receive Punitive Damages?
In this state, punitive damages are not commonly awarded. The burden of proof for evidence increases to clear and convincing. The plaintiff must provide clear and convincing evidence that the defendant committed “oppression, fraud, or malice.” Given that it’s much more difficult to prove your case for punitive damages, it is incredibly important that you have an attorney represent you during the case. Most importantly, there must have been some sort of damage in the first place if you are to be awarded punitive damages. Cases that have received punitive damages include personal injury and business contracts.