Punitive damages do not apply to most California slip and fall claims, but there are exceptions, provided that certain conditions are met. Our team of experienced Los Angeles slip and fall lawyers will be able to examine the facts of your case to determine whether or not these damages may be realistically sought.
When are Punitive Damages Awarded?
If at least one of the following elements is met, then you may be awarded punitive damages in your slip and fall lawsuit:
- The wrongdoing on the part of the defendant led to catastrophic injuries or wrongful death for the slip and fall victim
- The defendant willfully attempted to destroy evidence of their liability
While some accidents result in mild injuries, some may cause catastrophic injuries such as a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or paralysis—which may be eligible for punitive damages. Moreover, at Salamati Law, we have seen slip and fall accidents where the defendant immediately and intentionally destroyed– or attempted to destroy– crucial evidence that would have helped the victim’s case. If you can prove that the defendant did this, you would be eligible to receive punitive damages for your slip and fall accident.
What is Conscious Disregard for Safety?
Another possible avenue for pursuing punitive damages is that the defendant acted with a “conscious disregard” for safety. The victim or plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant was aware of a dangerous hazard and willfully failed to fix it. A three-part test is used to determine whether or not the defendant’s negligence constituted this type of reckless disregard for safety:
- The defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the peril
- The defendant had actual or constructive knowledge that injury was probable, as opposed to possible, as a result of the danger
- There was a conscious failure on the part of the defendant to act to avoid the peril
The Final Step: Was it a Managing Agent That Acted with Conscious Disregard for Safety?
Pursuant to Civil Code § 3294, once you demonstrate that there was a conscious disregard for safety, one more element is required: “malice must be on the part of an officer, director, or managing agent of the corporation.”
In other words, it is not enough to prove that a cashier at the grocery store knew that the freezer in the frozen food aisle was leaking condensation all over the floor. You would need to prove that the manager or owner also knew about it and further understood that a serious injury was a probable result. Yet, they decided not to do anything to ensure the safety of grocery store’s patrons.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help You Recover Punitive Damages
It can be challenging to convince a jury that punitive damages are appropriate. However, our attorneys at Salamati Law strongly urge slip and fall victims to hire a Los Angeles personal injury attorney to represent them. The right representation will know how to analyze the facts specific to your case and determine whether it makes sense to pursue punitive damages.
Maximizing our clients’ financial compensation
In sum, punitive damages are awarded when the defendant’s conduct is particularly egregious—it is the legal system’s means of punishing the defendant and deterring others from similar behavior. Since 1995, we have been holding these types of defendants accountable to achieve justice for our clients and maximize our clients’ financial compensation.
Contact Us for Your Free Consultation Today
If you have questions about punitive damages in a slip and fall claim, call Salamati Law and arrange your free consultation with a slip and fall lawyer in Los Angeles. As we work on a contingency-fee-basis, you will not be charged anything unless you win.