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What Are Punitive Damages in Los Angeles


How to Prove Your Liability Claims


Compensatory damages are intended to compensate an injured individual for his or her losses after a premises liability accident. In general, a plaintiff must prove he or she was harmed or injured in order to be entitled to damages. If an individual did not sustain any injuries, there is typically no need for any damages.

Broadly speaking, compensatory damages can be divided in either of the two following categories:

Economic: this includes tangible losses such as property damage.

Non-Economic: this includes intangible losses, such as emotional distress.

There are also punitive damages, which are separate from compensatory damages. Punitive damages may be awarded on top of the normal compensatory damages an aggrieved individual may be entitled to and are intended to punish a wrongdoer for their negligent or malicious behavior.

Economic Damages


Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out of pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.
A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out of pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain And Suffering
  • Loss Of Enjoyment Of Life

Punitive damages


are different from compensatory damages. Punitive damages are awarded on top of the compensatory damages an aggrieved individual may be entitled to. Punitive damages are intended to punish a wrongdoer for negligent or malicious behavior and are awarded at the court’s discretion. Below, our experienced premises liability attorneys will discuss punitive damages and how they relate to premises liability claims. If you have suffered injuries as a result of a premises liability accident in California, the experienced premises liability attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers are always here to answer any questions you may have about premises liability claims and available damages.

Punitive Damages Explained


Punitive damages are intended as punishment and will only be awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are rare and in fact only feature in about 5% of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages in a premises liability claim. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a claim.

Punitive Damages And Premises Liability


In order for an injured individual to be entitled to punitive damages after a premises liability incident, he or she must prove that the defendant acted with a “conscious disregard” for safety. If it can be shown that a property owner knew about a hazardous condition and deliberately failed to do anything about it, an injured plaintiff may be awarded punitive damages.
There is a three part test to identify the elements needed to bring negligent acts to the status of “conscious disregard”:

  • Actual/constructive knowledge of the hazard
  • Actual/constructive knowledge that an injury is likely as a result of that hazard
  • Deliberate failure to act to take reasonable action to eliminate that hazard

Demonstrating that a property owner was aware of a danger and deliberately did nothing to address it is crucial. For example, did a property owner already know that a security gate was not working properly and did nothing about it? Did a restaurant manager know a machine was leaking and causing water to accumulate where customers could easily slip and fall?
Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, it is crucial that you can prove a property owner was aware of a dangerous condition and consciously decided not to take reasonable action. If you can prove that this is the case, you may have a claim for punitive damages, on top of the compensatory damages you may already be entitled to.

Contact West Coast Trial Lawyers to find out how we can help
If you have sustained injuries in the city of Los Angeles as a result of a premises liability accident, an attorney at our firm can help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call West Coast Trial Lawyers today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.

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