Portland Punitive Damages Lawyers
Defectively designed or manufactured products, or products that do not provide fair warning about the risks of injury can cause serious or even fatal injuries. If the product designer or manufacturer was extremely reckless in creating or releasing a dangerous product, the victim could be entitled to punitive damages as well as compensation for damages like medical bills and lost wages. Punitive damages are meant to punish the designer or manufacturer for its actions, not to compensate you for the harm you suffered.
The Portland punitive damages lawyers at Rizk Law have detailed knowledge of Oregon laws on punitive damages, including the evidence needed and the process for claiming these damages in court. We can review your product liability injury in a free, no obligation legal consultation to determine the full value of your claim, including any punitive damages. We are committed to not only obtaining compensation for the damages you suffered, but also holding the negligent parties accountable. It costs nothing to be represented by one of our trusted attorneys throughout the legal process, we do not get paid unless our clients are compensated.
What are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are a special kind of damages in a personal injury legal action. These damages are not linked to any specific harm or damage suffered by the injury victim.
For example, the victim may have suffered an injury that required medical treatment and he or she may be entitled to compensation for certain medical expenses. This form of compensation is linked to the bills the victim received. The same could be said for lost wages – the victim could not work so he or she was not able to earn money, which means the compensation was linked to the victim’s lost earnings.
However, punitive damages are not connected to anything. They are simply designed to punish the at-fault party for its conduct. Punishing the at-fault party also serves another purpose – trying to prevent other people or entities from engaging in the same or similar conduct in the future.
What Does State Law Say About Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are not awarded unless you are able to establish, with clear and convincing evidence, that the at-fault party acted with malice or showed a reckless or outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm and acted consciously with indifference to the safety, welfare and health of other people (Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 31.730).
In other words, punitive damages are reserved for cases where there was extreme negligence. You often hear about punitive damages being awarded in lawsuits filed over prescription drugs or medical devices or equipment. The victims were able to prove that putting the product on the market or failing to provide adequate warning about the dangers of the product put patients at risk for severe injury or even death.
Victims and their attorneys are often able to point to studies on these products or reports to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about side effects, injuries or deaths. Attorneys may claim that because of these studies and FDA reports, the manufacturer knew about the risks. Not taking the drug or product off the market or strengthening the warning labels could be seen as conscious indifference to the danger to consumers.
How to Request Punitive Damages
Our Portland punitive damages lawyers cannot request punitive damages when we file a civil action on your behalf. Once the initial pleading has been filed, we are allowed to file a motion to amend it to request punitive damages. At this time, we are allowed to submit documentation to support our request for punitive damages.
However, the court will review documentation and other evidence submitted by both sides about this motion. If the court determines that we failed to prove specific facts, the motion will be denied. The motion will also be denied if the other side is able to show that the timing of our motion hurts their ability to defend themselves. In some cases, the court could give the other side additional time to gather more evidence to submit to try to convince the court to deny your motion.
Once you file a motion for punitive damages, there will be a hearing on it within 30 days. No more than 10 days later the court should make a decision about the motion. If there is no decision within that time, you can consider the motion denied.
How are Punitive Damages Distributed?
If a jury decides to grant punitive damages, the court will review the specifics of the award to determine if it is acceptable. In other words, the court will determine if the award is appropriate based on the evidence and statutory and common law factors.
The court has the right to reduce the amount of punitive damages after it reviews the jury award. The award could also be reduced if the at-fault party shows that it has taken reasonable steps to prevent the same conduct in the future.
One of the factors in the decision on reducing punitive damages is the amount of any previous punitive damages paid out by the same party for the same conduct that resulted in a claim for punitive damages.
Under ORS 31.735, the state will take 60 percent of every punitive damages award, to be placed in the state crime victim’s fund. You will receive 30 percent of the award, and your attorney is paid out of that 30 percent. However, the attorney cannot take more than 20 percent of the total amount of punitive damages. The remaining 10 percent of your award is going to be paid to the Oregon Attorney General, who will put it in the State Court Facilities and Security Account.
The laws governing punitive damages are complicated and difficult to understand without the help of a reputable Portland punitive damages lawyer.
Contact an attorney today for your free consultation.
Contact a Portland Punitive Damages Lawyer Right Away
Punitive damages are the law’s way of punishing product manufacturers and others who were grossly negligent, when this negligence resulted in injury to consumers. Punishing this kind of negligence will hopefully help prevent others from engaging in similar behavior in the future, putting others at risk of severe injury or death.
However, recovering punitive damages is tough because Oregon has various regulations on these kinds of damages. Proving that the at-fault party’s conduct meets the standard for punitive damages is very difficult. Our Portland punitive damages lawyers understand this and we have in-depth understanding and knowledge of these laws and when it is appropriate to pursue this form of compensation.
Schedule a free legal consultation right now to learn more about how we are prepared to help you. We are committed to holding negligent product manufacturers and designers liable for their negligence when it results in injury.