California law on punitive damages are the legal remedies provided to the citizens of the Golden State when they are harmed by egregious or reckless conduct. What does California Law say on punitive damages? To answer this question, we first have to explain what punitive damages are and when they might apply to a claim for personal injury in California.
What are punitive damages?
These are damages that a defendant in a civil action may be ordered to pay to punish them for particularly egregious conducting including personal injury and employment claims. They are meant to have a deterrent effect on the defendant from acting in a same or similar way in the future. They can be awarded to the plaintiff in addition to “compensatory” damages like medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Generally the cannot be awarded for a simple breach of contract but, can be awarded in cases such as insurance “bad faith” claims where an insurance company wrongfully refuses to pay a legitimate claim. In order to obtain such an award against a corporate employer for the acts of an employee, there also needs to be proof that the employer (through a manager or officer) had advance knowledge of the conduct or “ratified” (approved) of the conduct.