What are punitive damages?

You do not have to be a lawyer to understand the basics of personal injury law. In fact, of all the different types of law, I truly think that personal injury is the easiest to understand! The ease of understanding is most likely caused by injury being something to which most people can relate. Compare that to topics like constitutionality or intellectual property!

However, there are still concepts important to personal injury lawyers that are not easily understood without some intense research. One topic, punitive damages, is pretty important to know about as an average citizen because it might affect a potential lawsuit you might pursue after being injured by someone.

Luckily for you, I have done a lot of research on personal injury law, broadly, and punitive damages, more specifically:

The purpose of a personal injury case

Because punitive damages are so closely related to personal injury law, it is best to first understand the general purposes of a personal injury lawsuit. In most situations, people sue others for personal injuries in order to earn compensation to cover medical bills, health costs, or other financial damages incurred as a result of an injury.

Some additional financial damages that many people do not initially think of in these situations is something like lost wages or potentially-lost benefits. If a person is unable to work because they are recovering from an injury — or if they are disabled as a result of an injury — then one purpose of a personal injury lawsuit could be to recoup those losses. A person’s financial status ought to never be dramatically worsened because of the negligence or damages caused by another.

Punitive damages explained

On the other hand, as Portner Bond, PLLC discusses on their website, an additional benefit that a judge or plaintiff might pursue in a personal injury lawsuit is punitive damages. These are meant to disincentivize — a nice way to say punish — the extremely negligent behavior that a person engaged in, that caused the victim’s (or plaintiff’s) injuries.

While this might seem harsh, using the judicial system to persuade the public’s actions not only makes sense but is done every day. The main reason people do not speed is not because of safety concerns, but because of the fear of a speeding ticket. So pursuing punitive damages against someone might make it so that the person does not commit the negligent or reckless actions again.

When punitive damages are used

If you still feel that punitive damages are harsh, the silver lining is that only rarely do judges or plaintiffs seek to pursue this form of restitution. Other forms of incentives (like compensation for medical bills) are more commonly used in personal injury cases. But for particularly egregious or reckless behavior, punitive damages are a good means of motivation.

Construction Sites Accidents: Fires and Explosions

We can all agree that there are some workplaces that are more dangerous than others, like how construction sites present more hazards compared to, say, an office building. According to the website of the Oklahoma City accident lawyers at the Abel Law Firm, construction site accidents account for about 20% of fatal work injuries and 10% of non-fatal work injuries in the U.S. Considering that there are many hazardous workplaces out there, taking 20% and 10% of the chunk of deaths and injuries is troubling.


Some of the many accidents that can happen in construction sites are fires and explosions. Employers should make sure that their workplaces are safe from these hazards, but employees should also rely on common sense and safety measures to prevent accidents involving fires and explosives. Below are some of the hazards they should look at:

  • Chemicals, other combustible and flammable substances, and their containers
  • Compressed gas cylinders
  • Electrical systems, and the possibility of malfunctions
  • Explosives like dynamites
  • Tools, equipment, heavy machines, and the possibility of malfunctions


There are a lot of possible injuries that can be sustained in a fire or explosion. There is the most obvious one – burns. The website of The Benton Law Firm has classified burns depending on where you have sustained them, from first degree burns and hot metals and fourth degree burns and electric shock – either danger is present in a construction site.

Other injuries include traumatic ones, mostly sustained from the blast of an explosion and victim hitting an object or getting hit by an object. The most dangerous traumatic injuries involve the brain and the spinal cord.


What makes construction site accidents and injuries so devastating is the fact that employers have the responsibility of keeping safety on the workplace, so in a perspective, the hurt workers are merely victims. There may be legal options available for these workers, especially if it has been proven that the employer’s negligence, recklessness, or incompetence, is the reason behind the accident.

Coping with an Amputation

Severe injuries that result in amputation can be both traumatic and life-changing, leading to others suffering from financial troubles, emotional distress, and even psychological stress. Anyone who has suffered from an amputation in any part of their body part can attest that the injury affects not only them but also the people that they love. Their quality of life has been changed and adjustments should be made to deal with the loss.

There are generally two causes of amputations: surgery and accidents. Regardless of the cause, the impact of the injury means long-term rehabilitation treatments, prosthetics, and adapting to their new circumstances. A lot of people who have gone through and injury that ended in amputation had to come into terms with their new situation and rebuild their life. Fortunately, those who had the injury because of another person or party’s fault can claim compensation for their damages.

There are two ways that a person can have an amputation: through surgery or accident. Surgical amputation is often done in life-threatening situation and as a last resort to prevent further risk to their patient. Accidents can cause an impromptu amputation due to trauma. According to the website of Russo, Russo & Slania, P.C., examples are road accidents and workplace accidents. In such events, identifying whether the damage was directly caused by recklessness or negligence or not is critical. If there is evidence that the other party was negligent and that directly caused the injuries, then a personal injury claim can be filed and compensation can be awarded.

Amputations can have a great impact to both the patient and their family. Physical, mental, and financial distress can accompany their emotional turmoil following their injury. This is why it is important that compensation is awarded to help cover for the cost of long-term treatment and rehabilitation, medication, and other expenses that may be necessary to rebuild and readjust to the new life.

Victim Blaming: Why Rape Usually Goes Unreported

Rape is a serious crime that should never be taken lightly. Bouncing back from the pain and trauma caused by such an event can be very difficult for victims. The process becomes even harder considering that plenty of offenders are held accountable for the suffering they have caused. The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) estimates that there are about 293,000 victims of sexual assault in America every year. Unfortunately, around 68 percent of these cases go unreported to the police.

In most situations, victims prefer to keep quiet about their assault in fear that they will be the one blamed for what had happened to them. A report published by USA Today goes into further detail regarding this pattern. As pointed out by Amber Stevenson of the Nashville Sexual Assault Center, victims are often shamed by their communities for any behavior that they perceive as having contributed to why the abuse has occurred. Stevenson calls this “victim-blaming” and it usually takes form in statements like “she was asking for it” or “she didn’t fight back, she must have wanted it”. Victims are also wary that lack of physical evidence in certain assault situations make for a weaker case when approaching law enforcement and leave them open to more scrutiny.

As a result, rape victims will need a strong advocate that can pursue justice on their behalf. This is where proper legal representation comes in. According to the website of McCutchen & Sexton – The Law Firm working with an experienced lawyer to handle rape and other sexual abuse cases can help victims hold their attackers accountable through the right legal channels. When this happens, victims can also begin their healing process without having to worry about the possibility that they might encounter the offender in the future. With the help of a sympathetic and qualified attorney, victims of sexual assault might be able to find the closure they need to move on from such a traumatic situation.

Concussion in California Law

Concussion is a serious concern for anyone, especially in sports; so much so that California legislators thought it was a good idea to pass a law about it.

Most people consider concussion as not such a big deal, but it is in fact an injury to the brain. True, some concussions are mild and patients eventually recover enough to go back to their normal activities, but any injury to the brain is always worrisome. Very little is known about the brain even in this day and age, and to say with any certainty that an injury to the brain today will not have an effect several years down the road is being cocky, to say the least. Such injuries can have life-changing consequences.

Concussion is unfortunately a common occurrence in contact sports such as football. To limit the damage at least to the young, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that would take effect in 2015 that regulates full-contact practice in middle- and high-school football to 90 minute sessions for a maximum of twice a week in the off-season. Any player who suffers a head injury is compelled to retire from practice until thoroughly examined and given the green light by a licensed health professional. It is not a significant protection for these literally young minds, but it’s a start. Reports of concussion among high school football players had been on the rise.

But that doesn’t address the issue of concussion in college and pro football players, and who is liable for it the player sustains serious injury. About 36% of college football players suffer multiple concussive events, and many continue to play despite the injury.

If a third party neglects to pull a player from the field for a suspected concussion and the player sustains serious traumatic brain injury, that individual may be held responsible. Consult with a personal injury or car accident lawyer in your state for assistance in this matter.

Boating Accidents

Commercial fishing and aquaculture is an extremely lucrative business for companies on the eastern seaboard and gulf coasts. Oil companies also take advantage of offshore drilling in these areas. Close proximity to bodies of water also gives people an opportunity to enjoy, floating, boating, fishing, and water sports. Lakes and rivers are popular destinations for people enjoying vacations and holiday weekends. According to boating resource websites, the ten most popular states for boating and water recreation are Florida, Texas, California, North Carolina, New York, Louisiana, Washington, Delaware, Michigan, and Minnesota.

Unfortunately, boating accidents account for many of the injuries that happen in bodies of water. The majority of these boating accidents are caused by drivers that are under the influence. BUI accidents often result in serious injury and sometimes death since boats provide little external protection for passengers. The Boating Safety Resource Center (BSRC), a division of the U.S. Coast Guard, cites July as the most deadly month for boating accidents. The BSRC mentions that in addition to alcohol use, other common factors that contribute to boating crashes are operator inattention, operation inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed, and navigation rules violation.

Additional complications from boating often result from mechanical failure or defective parts. According to the website of Habush, Habush, and Rottier S.C. ®, whenever someone sustains a personal injury due to an accident, the recovery process can be expensive and frustrating. If injury occurs due to someone else’s negligence, injured parties can be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and time spent away from work. In these cases, people will hire a lawyer to claim the money that they deserve.