When Are Punitive Damages Awarded in California?

There are different forms of compensation injured parties may be awarded. One of the rarer forms of compensation includes punitive damages. So, what are punitive damages? How can they be recovered after an accident? Read on for more information regarding punitive damages in California.

What Are Punitive Damages?

If you are injured due to another party’s negligence, you may be awarded compensation. An injury can take a major toll. You may struggle with hospital bills and lost wages. Additionally, you may deserve compensation for your physical and mental pain and suffering. For example, some people are awarded compensation for things like loss of enjoyment of life. This compensation is meant to help the injured party with the burdens he or she faces as a result of the injury. In some cases, the injured party may also be awarded punitive damages. Punitive damages are not meant to award the injured party, but rather to punish the negligent party. Additionally, these damages are meant to deter any future negligent behavior.

When Are They Awarded?

Punitive damages are not awarded in every personal injury case. Instead, they are only awarded in cases where the negligent party has been found guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice. When it comes to punitive damages, it is not enough to prove negligence. A common example of a situation in which punitive damages may be awarded is drunk driving. In cases like this, the driver got behind the wheel of a car with the knowledge that he or she could cause serious damage, and chose to do so anyway. Driving while intoxicated is more than just negligent, it is an example of willful and wanton conduct. It can be extremely difficult to recover punitive damages. Personal injury cases are often complex as is because it can be hard to prove negligence. So proving that there was some sort of malice or ill-intent can be even more complex. As a result, you will need the help of a skilled personal injury attorney on your side.

Is There a Cap?

In some states, punitive damages are capped at a certain amount. But, in California, there is no cap when it comes to punitive damages.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to another party’s willful misconduct, contact our firm today. We want to help you recover the compensation you deserve.


When someone is wrongly injured in an accident, they often require financial compensation to heal. That’s where we come in. Contact the Law Offices of Brian J. O’Grady today to learn more about what our firm can do for you.