Punitive damages are the favorite of every prospective claimant throughout the United States. In essence, punitive damages are meant to penalize Defendants for actions that violated the rights of or injured another person. Usually, the Defendant's action must be grossly negligent, reckless or intentional in order to garner these exemplary damages.
Everyone remembers the spilled McDonald's coffee lawsuit from the 1990's - a New Mexico jury awarded the Plaintiff $160,000 in compensatory damages, but awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages. While the Washington legislature has allowed for several situations where punitive damages are allowed - our home state is one of only nine states that prohibit a Plaintiff from recovering punitive damages when bringing a claim for personal injury. That means if the New Mexico McDonald's case took place in Washington, the total damages would have been much less.
This law is important for all potential Plaintiffs to understand because in Washington, damages are not as they seem in the Hollywood dramas. At Magnuson Lowell, we will always give you a fair analysis of your claim and make sure you are armed with all the necessary information before making these important decisions.