Compensatory Damages vs. Punitive Damages
In Washington, injured people are only entitled to recover for compensatory damages and not punitive charges. What is the difference and how does it affect you? Read on.
What is the Difference? How Does it Affect You?Most people think they should be able to recover extra money from a driver who was impaired. So being drunk or high should matter. The fact that someone has been drinking or using is relevant.
But in Washington we don't have punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish. We just have compensatory damages. They're meant to compensate. So in Washington level of culpability, or how responsible someone is, doesn't increase the amount you can recover.
Basically, you're able to recover the same amount regardless of whether someone had sun in their eyes or was in the midst of slamming heroin. What you get are those damages that compensate you for the losses you've suffered: treatment expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc. They don't go down if it was "just an accident" or up if someone was wasted.
How Can You Make a Difference?It's ridiculous that we don't have punitive damages. There are only four jurisdictions in the United States that don't have punitive damages: Louisiana, Nebraska, Puerto Rico, and Washington. What's the solution? Talk to your legislators and let them know that it's a big hole in Washington law that should be filled.