(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this car accident case and its proceedings.)
Plaintiffs Do Not Need to Show that Defendant Intended to Injure Sean Black In Order to Recover Punitive Damages
By describing the subject crash as “merely” accidental, Hill argues that Sean cannot recover punitive damages because he does not have evidence that Hill intended to injure Sean. First, the crash was not just a simple accident. Hill caused the crash by acting recklessly in a number of ways just before the crash. Defendant’s conduct made the crash all but inevitable. But more importantly, there is no bar to recovering punitive damages under Civil Code § 3294 if plaintiffs cannot prove that defendant intended to harm plaintiff.
A conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others means a conscious disregard of the probability that the actor’s conduct will result in injury to others. (Taylor v. Sup. Ct. (1979) 24 Cal.3d 890, 895.) Here, Hill’s conduct immediately before the crash significantly increased the chances of injury to others, especially to Sean. In order to obtain punitive damages, plaintiff need not prove that defendant intended to cause injury to the plaintiff. (Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Co. (1981) 119 Cal.App.3d 757, 808.) For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.
Rather, plaintiff needs to only show that defendant acted in conscious disregard for other people’s safety. (West v. Johnson & Johnson Prods., Inc. (1985) 174 Cal.App.3d 831, 867 (inadequate product testing); Penner v. Falk (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 858, 867 (landlord’s knowledge for years that conditions on premises created danger of criminal attacks); Nolin v. National Convenience Stores, Inc. (1979) 95 Cal.App.3d 279 (allowing grease to build up near gas station pumps).)
Plaintiffs need not prove that Hill intended to harm Sean in order to obtain punitive damages. Plaintiffs merely need to show that Hill acted in conscious disregard of Sean’s safety. This is shown by the overwhelming evidence obtained from discovery. Therefore, Hill’s request for summary adjudication on the basis that plaintiffs failed to show intent fails. (See Part 6 of 6.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.