Personal injury lawsuits make up a significant percentage of civil lawsuits in California. Some common personal injury suits in California include:
- Automobile accidents (especially trucking accidents)
- Slip and fall claims
- Work-related claims
- Defective product injuries
- Medical malpractice claims
California also has strict drinking and driving laws, as drunk driving contributes to many personal injury claims every year. DUI violations can also lead to criminal penalties.
What Is California’s Stance on Punitive Damages?
Each state has different perspectives on punitive damages (damages intended to punish the defendant). California does allow punitive damages, but they must conform to specific standards. For injury claims in California involving negligence, the plaintiff needs to establish that: the defendant was "aware the dangers of their conduct". They must also prove that the person deliberately failed to avoid such dangerous consequences.
California regulates punitive damages by statute. California courts may also follow the guidelines for punitive damages set forth in Simon v. San Paolo U.S. Holding Co., 29 Cal.Rptr.3d 379 (2005). There, the court lists three guidelines for issuing punitive damages:
- The degree of "reprehensibility" (the offensiveness) of the defendant’s conduct
- The difference between the actual and potential harm suffered by the victim in comparison to the punitive damages award; and
- Differences between the punitive damages issued compared with previous similar cases
Thus, punitive damages may be limited in California according to these guidelines. California also maintains a cap on medical malpractice damage awards.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Personal Injury Lawsuit in California?
California maintains specific laws when it comes to personal injuries and damages awards. You may wish to hire a personal injury lawyer if you have a personal injury claim and need representation. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice and can represent you on the matter. Also, your lawyer will be able to counsel you on any limitations or specific details in relation to damages.