Can I get punitive damages in my medical malpractice case?
Punitive damages are allowed when there is clear and convincing evidence of either intentional action or actions carried out with a conscious disregard for the health and safety of a patient. It is extremely rare for any medical malpractice claim to involve such intentional conduct. The vast majority of medical malpractice lawsuits involve acts of negligence that are not subject to an award for punitive damages, which are designed to punish the wrong-doer and discourage future bad conduct. In addition, a California law that is applicable to only medical malpractice cases requires a plaintiff to file a motion in court and obtain court approval to even ask for the right to sue for punitive damages. While the facts of some cases are such that the requirements for punitive damages can be shown, many attorneys who are not familiar with the special rules and laws specific to medical malpractice cases may not be able to properly assert such claims.