PERSONAL INJURY I CAR ACCIDENTS I FAQ CAR ACCIDENTS I FREQUENTLY ASKED CAR ACCIDENT QUESTIONS I FRAUD I DISABILITY ABUSE I DISABILITY FRAUD – At-Fault Driver takes Advantage of Disabled Pedestrian Following Traffic Collision
December 18, 2020
POLICY LIMITS SETTLEMENT – We recently settled a pedestrian car accident case for policy limits and the underlying factor which guided this result was that the at-fault driver made false statements at the scene of the pedestrian car accident and took advantage of our client’s disabilities.
Our disabled and deaf client had the right-of-way while crossing a crosswalk near a freeway off-ramp and the at-fault driver failing to look ahead slammed into the disabled pedestrian. At the scene of the traffic collision reporting officers were unable to communicate with our client due to his disabilities and the at-fault driver took advantage of our client’s disability. The at-fault driver attempted to wrongfully profit from our client’s disability by making false representations at the scene of the car accident. Specifically, the driver lied about his speed of travel and other relevant factors as to the pedestrian car accident.
In a previous post, our offices discussed recovering punitive damages when an at-fault driver is lying at the scene of a pedestrian car accident. Specifically, we stated that “if an at-fault driver is lying about the cause of the car accident, then the injured motor vehicle victim may be awarded punitive damages”. When an at-fault driver makes false statements to reporting officers and attempts to evade liability such unethical conduct permits an award for punitive damages.
However, in addition to being awarded punitive damages for misrepresentations at the scene of the pedestrian car accident, our disabled client is also entitled to punitive damages because the at-fault driver took advantage of the disability. In this incident, the at-fault driver made fraudulent representations at the scene of the pedestrian car accident, knowing that our disabled client could not contradict his claims due to his disabilities and limited ability to communicate with reporting officers.
Controlling law which permits punitive damages when an at-fault driver makes misrepresentations at the scene of a pedestrian car accident, is as follows:
“In an appropriate case, the jury may be instructed that a false promise or a suggestion of a fact known to be false may constitute a misrepresentation as the word “misrepresentation” is used in the instruction’s definition of “fraud.” (Stevens v. Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp. (1996) 49 Cal.App.4th 1645, 1661 [57 Cal.Rptr.2d 525]. The court in Stevens suggested that the following instruction be given if evidence of other punitive damage awards is introduced into evidence: ‘If you determine that a defendant has already been assessed with punitive damages based on the same conduct for which punitive damages are requested in this case, you may consider whether punitive damages awarded in other cases have sufficiently punished and made an example of the defendant. You must not use the amount of punitive damages awarded in other cases to determine the amount of the punitive damage award in this case, except to the extent you determine that a lesser award, or no award at all, is justified in light of the penalties already imposed.’ (Stevens, supra, 49 Cal.App.4th at p. 1663, fn. 7.) … The purposes of punitive damages are to punish a wrongdoer for the conduct that harmed the plaintiff and to discourage similar conduct in the future.” – CACI No. 394 Punitive Damages – Individual Defendant – Trial not Bifurcated.
In addition to punitive damages for fraud, taking advantage of another’s disability for personal gain gives rise to additional damages. Increased remedies are available for a disabled person when another unfairly took advantage of the victim’s disability. Controlling law which permits punitive damages and increased remedies for disabled car accident victims, against an individual whom takes advantage of disabled victims at the scene of a pedestrian car accident, is as follows:
Civil Code § 3345 “(a) This section shall apply only in actions brought by, on behalf of, or for the benefit of … disabled persons … to redress unfair or deceptive acts or practices or unfair methods of competition. (b) … Whenever the trier of fact makes an affirmative finding in regard to one or more of the following factors, it may impose a fine, civil penalty or other penalty, or other remedy … up to three times greater than the amount the trier of fact would impose in the absence of that affirmative finding:
(1) Whether the defendant knew or should have known that his or her conduct was directed to one or more … disabled persons. …
(3) Whether one or more … disabled persons are substantially more vulnerable than other members of the public to the defendant’s conduct because of age, poor health or infirmity, impaired understanding, restricted mobility, or disability, and actually suffered substantial physical, emotional, or economic damage resulting from the defendant’s conduct.” – California Code of Civil Procedure § 3345 Penal Damages
False allegations made to investigating officers, is the exact behavior punitive damages were designed to discourage. Further punitive damages, penal damages and remedy multipliers are available to disabled victims to prevent wrongdoers from taking advantage of their disability. For more information on punitive damages links are included below:
We have included our California Damages Chart below, explaining different types of recoverable damages, including punitive damages:
|Type of Damages|
|Special Compensatory Damages/ Economic Damages|
|Special damages are unique to the individual plaintiff and vary significantly from one plaintiff to the next. An award for special damages compensates a plaintiff for costs and expenses incurred as a result of the incident or accident that caused their injuries.|
|Common types of special damages:|
· loss of earnings
· property damage
· loss of future earnings
· past medical expenses
· cost for future medical care
· cost of household expenses
· reimbursement for cancelled trips or altered plans
|General Compensatory Damages/Noneconomic Damages||General damages compensate a plaintiff for non-monetary damages incurred in a personal injury claim.||Common types of general damages:|
· physical pain
· loss of enjoyment of life
· emotional distress
· mental anguish,
· pain and suffering,
· loss of enjoyment
· loss of consortium or companionship
|Punitive Damages||Punitive damages are only awarded to an injured plaintiff when the defendant’s conduct was despicable or reprehensible. Punitive damages are designed to punish a wrongdoer for the wrongful conduct and discourage similar conduct in the future.||Punitive damages are awarded when the defendant engaged in malicious, oppressive or fraudulent conduct.|
· Malice: means that the defendant acted with intent to cause injury or with willful and knowing disregard of the rights and safety of another.
· Oppression: means the defendant’s conduct was despicable and the plaintiff was subject to cruel and unjust hardship in knowing disregard of their rights
· Fraud: means the defendant intentionally misrepresented or concealed a material fact and did so intending to harm the plaintiff
For more blogs discussing “FAQs Car Accident” or “Frequently Asked Car Accident Questions” see the links below:
If you were involved in a car accident or have any questions about your personal injury case call us today at 619-432-5145 for a free consultation with one of our experienced Disability Personal Injury Lawyers and San Diego Car Accident Attorneys.