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Proving Intentional Misconduct for Punitive Damages

By Edited Jun 9, 2014 0 0

If a person has a malicious intent to harm another person which resulted to actual injury or loss, the court may impose punitive damages against the defendant.

Punitive damages are additional monetary compensation for the injuries or wrongful death of a victim. The defendant is required to pay the amount plus other state-mandated penalties. It is a form of punishment for the wrongdoer.

Punitive Damages in employment cases have raised contentions from business groups and insurance companies. The cost of litigation and the amount for punitive damages is regarded as exorbitant and can only strain financial status of employers.

Punitive damages are considered as quasi-criminal. It has elements of civil and criminal law. It is non-compensatory and has criminal penalties.

Punitive damages have the purpose of penalizing the wrongdoer for the grave misconduct. It aims to discourage the wrongdoer from repeating the wrongful act and dissuade other citizens from committing the same or a similar act.

For an action to be regarded as having grave intentional misconduct, it must have the following attributes:

1. Malice

2. Violence

3. Recklessness

4. Bad faith

5. Oppression

6. Fraud

The wrongful act must have a planned and utter disregard for the rights, safety, and well-being of the other person.

California courts are careful when awarding punitive damages. It is awarded only when more evidence proves the grave intentional misconduct and the victim has sustained serious injuries, severe losses, or death.

If the wrongful act caused little harm, nominal damages may be granted. However, sufficient evidence for the violation of a legal right can be a basis for asserting punitive damages. In cases of breach-of-contract in business and employment, compensatory damages may be awarded.

Punitive damages are usually awarded in cases involving tortious actions. It must have an element of negligence and plan to commit a wrongful act.

It can also be awarded when a wanton behavior results to injury or death. For example: a civilian fires a gun into the air, though he/she has no intention to directly harm or kill another person; the foreseeable fatal effect of such act is enough to be categorized as

grave misconduct.

A reasonable person should hold in high regard the safety of other people; failure to prevent such act amidst knowledge of the hazard is enough to constitute the violation of a legal right violation. An exemption will be if the person acted in good faith, but caused injury or harm to another person.

If your employer has committed a willful grave misconduct towards you or other co-employees, you may file a lawsuit. Consult an Employment Business lawyer in Los Angeles today.



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