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Misconduct Affects Damages In California Personal Injury Claims


While the specific, underlying causes of personal injuries may vary, these incidents are the result of misconduct by other people. Based upon the actor’s state of mind, there are three ways wrongdoing can lead to fatalities or injuries: Negligence, recklessness, and intentional conduct. You might not think too much about the differences if you were a victim, as the pain, emotional distress, and other losses affect you regardless of the at-fault party’s motivations. However, the specific theory of liability does matter when it comes to compensation. Under California statutes on damages in civil cases, your options could vary.

Victims suffer consequences in so many areas of their lives that it is critical to pursue all possible compensation that will make them whole, or at least come as close as possible. The distinctions among negligent, reckless, and intentional acts affect the types of damages available. An Oakland personal injury lawyer can explain the details, and a summary is informative.

Comparing Types of Misconduct: The differences are subtle, but they are important. 

Negligence: Careless acts fall in this category, so the circumstances underlying the victim’s injuries are truly accidental. Examples are a driver who forgets to use a blinker or a store owner who was lax in cleaning up a spill on the floor.

 Recklessness: With this type of misconduct, the at-fault party has complete disregard of how his or her actions could affect the safety of others. Drag racing exhibits recklessness on behalf of a motorist. An apartment building owner might be considered reckless for using lead-based paint in common areas.

 Intentional Acts: Acts in this category are usually criminal, such as assault and rape. The person who commits the offense knows that the conduct is illegal and that it could lead to serious injuries.

 How Misconduct Affects a Victim’s Damages: Compensation in negligence cases aims to make the victim whole after suffering physical, financial, and emotional losses. It may not be possible to turn back time, but you can recover for your medical bills, lost wages, and out-of-pocket costs. You can also obtain amounts for how your injuries affect your quality of life.

When the at-fault party’s acts are reckless or intentional, there is another class of damages that enters the picture: Exemplary or punitive damages. These amounts are not designed to reimburse the victim, but the point is to punish the wrongdoer. There is no standard for determining punitive damages, but victims can obtain them on top of damages for their losses. The amount is typically a multiplier of the compensation, with a higher figure for more reprehensible, outrageous misconduct.

Our Oakland Personal Injury Attorneys Will Pursue All Available Damages

Negligence, recklessness, and intentional acts can all cause harm to a victim, but the actor’s state of mind is important for purposes of assessing damages. To learn more about your options, please contact Venardi Zurada, LLP to schedule a no-cost case assessment. One of our personal injury lawyers will meet with you at our offices in Oakland, or Walnut Creek, CA.


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