Punitive Damages – Washington State does not allow victims of personal injury to recover punitive damages. Washington is one of the four states that does not allow punitive damage in personal injury cases. This means that victims of intentional, reckless, or outrageous conduct cannot seek additional damages in injuries.
Washington personal injury victims may only seek compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are awarded only to the victim to make him whole and not to punish or deter defendants. Your settlement amount or court award will therefore be lower than if you were to include punitive damages.
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Punitive damages are not like compensatory damages. They have a different focus. Punitive damages are not intended to make victims “whole.”
Personal injury cases are eligible for punitive damages in all 50 states, except Louisiana, Nebraska and Puerto Rico. Personal injury victims can receive punitive damages in states where they have been intentionally injured by the defendant. This includes cases where the defendant is grossly negligent or has acted outrageously.
These situations are not allowed by states. They want to stop reckless, intentional, or outrageous conduct. Most states that allow punitive damage have a cap on the amount that victims can recover.
Some states, for example, set their cap at a multiple of the compensatory damage award. Some states may even use a portion of the punitive damages award to fund other state funds.
However, punitive damages in Washington State are not usually available. The state believes that punitive damages in personal injury cases are against public policy and therefore victims cannot be awarded them.
Washington’s Supreme Court stated that punitive damages can only be allowed in Washington if they are specifically authorized by statute. This is not the case for personal injury clients, so you should not expect to get punitive damages in a lawsuit.
Washington personal injury victims still have the right to recover their full damages. Washington, unlike many other states, does not limit economic or non-economic damage. Victims can pursue compensation for all medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering.
Punitive Damages for Maritime Employees
Maritime employees are an exception to Washington State’s refusal of punitive damages. Although maintenance and cure claims might seem like a gold mine for commercial fishermen, in reality, the plaintiff bear the burden of relief under maintenance and cure.
Recovery for injury to a seaman at sea falls under the Jones Act. All maritime workers are required to have Jones Act Insurance. Many people don’t realize that an employer may fail to pay a maintenance or cure claim, and an injured seaman could be entitled to punitive damage.
Punitive damages are damages that punish a defendant for wrongdoing. They generally surpass compensatory damages. The U.S. Supreme Court, Atlantic Sounding Co, Inc., in Townsend (2009), stated that a plaintiff doesn’t have to rely upon the Jones Act to claim punitive damages. General maritime law has long recognized punitive damages as a valid remedy.
Compensation for Damages
These damages are intended to compensate the victim. For various economic and non-economic damages that result from an accident, a victim may be eligible for compensatory damages.
Economic losses include things like:
- Medical treatment
- Loss of wages and
- Property damage.
Non-economic losses include things like:
- The pain and suffering of others
- Disfigurement and
- It can lead to a loss of enjoyment in life.
A jury must decide how much money the defendant must pay in order to compensate for the accident during a trial. It is easy to calculate economic losses because a jury can use medical bills, receipts, pay stubs, and other information to come up with a number. They will use their common sense and experience to calculate how much money is needed to compensate for pain and suffering, and other intangible losses.
In personal injury cases, courts award compensation damages to plaintiffs to cover their injuries. Compensatory damages, are also famous as actual damages, are awarded to plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits. They pay for their medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and other expenses. These are some things to know about compensatory damages.
Washington is a relative fault state. Any damages you receive for injuries you caused will be reduced if you are partially responsible. If the injury finds that you are 20% responsible, you will receive 80% of the damages.
Washington doesn’t have a cap on how much you can get in damages, even for non-economic reasons (emotional distress).
It can be difficult to define “fault”. Washington’s law defines “fault” as “unreasonable assumption or risk. This means that some parties cannot claim that an injury they caused was their fault, even though the injured person knew of the risks involved.
Personal injury cases less than $50,000 are handled by state district courts, while cases more than $50,000 are handled by state superior courts. The jury determines the award for personal injury. They instructions will be given by the judge on how to calculate the award.