Punitive damages (also called “exemplary damages”) are designed to punish particular conduct or make an example of certain offenders. The idea is that doing so will deter such behavior for the benefit of society.
But, even though they serve an important purpose, Louisiana law generally does not allow for the recovery of such damages. In fact, Louisiana has a policy against awarding punitive damages, so they are only allowed in a very limited handful of situations.
1. Punitive Damages for Drunk Driving Accidents
Most car accidents will not provide an opportunity for the recovery of punitive damages, but if alcohol is involved in the accident, the drunk driver may be held liable for such damages (see Civil Code article 2315.4). Click here to learn more about Louisiana drunk driving accidents.
2. Punitive Damages for Storage or Disposal of Toxic Waste
Though the statute has now been repealed, former Civil Code article 2315.3 allowed for an award of punitive damages for the storage or disposal of hazardous or toxic substances. Despite the fact that it has been repealed, it still applies to conduct that occurred between 1984 and 1996. This may not seem to have any significance but it can be a very important item of damage in some environmental cases (ex. Louisiana oilfield legacy cases).
3. Punitive Damages for Juvenile Pornography and Sexual Activity Cases
Causing harm to another through pornography involving juveniles is grounds for punitive damages (see current Civil Code article 2315.3), as is juvenile sexual activity/statutory rape cases (see Civil Code article 2315.7).
4. Other Examples of Punitive Damages
Punitive damages have also recently been permitted in domestic violence cases. In addition, Louisiana law allows for “borrowing” the punitive damage laws of another state if certain criteria are met:
Punitive damages may not be awarded by a court of this state unless authorized:
(1) By the law of the state where the injurious conduct occurred and by either the law of the state where the resulting injury occurred or the law of the place where the person whose conduct caused the injury was domiciled; or
(2) By the law of the state in which the injury occurred and by the law of the state where the person whose conduct caused the injury was domiciled.
(See Louisiana Civil Code article 3546). As you can see, this test can be complicated, so you should be sure to consult with an attorney if you feel that you may be entitled to punitive damages.
Call a New Orleans Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in a car, truck, or other type of accident, don’t delay in getting the help you need. The Mahone Firm is here to help. Call (504) 564-7342 to discuss your case with an injury lawyer today.