Can I Get a Punitive Damages Award from my Personal Injury Case?
Technically, in California, you are not entitled to receive any punitive damages from a personal injury lawsuit. Where legal, punitive damages are designed to deter the defendant from repeating the behaviors that caused the injury. In California, you are only allowed to get money because of a loss — not because of punishment for the defendant.
However, you should always allow a personal injury lawyer to calculate your losses. Of course there are some losses that are easy to calculate — like medical expenses. And there are some hidden losses like lost wages. A personal injury lawyer will also help you decide if your case warrants seeking losses for pain and suffering.
Many people ignore the possibility that the personal injury will cause pain and suffering. If you were in a car accident, for example, you might suffer from panic attacks while driving in the future. This kind of anxiety problem can multiply, causing problems at work, at home, and with friends. Personal injury victims will often end up isolating themselves a year or more after the accident in an effort to avoid another injury.
Personal injury cases are complicated, legal matters. And in the same way you allowed the doctors to treat you immediately after the accident, you should allow a lawyer to represent you in the years that follow.