A jury has found Southern California Edison, the primary supplier of electricity in Southern California, liable for injuries sustained by a local woman in 2011, when she was repeatedly electrocuted in her bathroom shower by stray electricity that pulsed from a power substation behind her home. The victim sustained serious injuries and continues to suffer from painful nerve damage in her extremities.
The power company maintained that there was no substantial evidence that the substation was responsible for any injuries, but home inspections revealed surprising results; 26 points of inspection in the house were found to have electricity passing through them, especially throughout plumbing and appliances. Historically, residents in the neighborhood have complained about potential electrical problems, like crackling noises emitted from overhead power lines and minor electrical shocks when touching mailboxes.
For the injuries she sustained, the jury awarded the plaintiff over $1 million in compensatory damages and about $3 million in punitive damages in March of 2013, a whole two years after her injuries were suffered.
After an injury, as illustrated by plaintiff’s case, it can take several years for an injury victim to actually recover the compensation that he or she may be entitled to. This is one of the many reasons why injury victims should partner with an experienced personal injury attorney to handle the case from beginning to end. With more important things to do like heal and recover from their injuries, accident victims simply can’t afford the stress of trying to mount a legal battle on their own.
Compensatory v. Punitive Damages
The amount of damages that an injury victim can expect to recover will vary depending on the facts of a specific case. However, compensatory and punitive damages are two of the most common types of damages that injury victims can recovery. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the victim for the cost of injury related expenses, like medical bills, physical therapy, etc. These damages are often limited to what the victim can show is a legitimate expense. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are intended to punish individuals responsible for causing an injury by requiring them to pay a sort of “fine” to the injured victim. Punitive damages are allowed primarily as a deterrent to similar behavior. Punitive damages are determined largely based on what a jury (or judge, if it is not a jury trial), thinks is fair – the victim can ask for a specific number, but a judge or jury is free to adjust the requested amount in either direction.
After a verdict is handed down and damages awarded, the losing party is free to file for an appeal. Contrary to popular belief, an appeal is not a new trial, but a requested review of the trial that was already conducted. Appellate judges review case records to determine whether or not any procedural errors occurred during the first trial and can overturn (reverse) the decision, or remand it (send it back to a trial court with the direction to amend the error and hold a new trial). No new testimony is given in an appeal, but a person’s right to recover damages may be hindered by lengthy appeals processes. A personal injury attorney can give further advice on the appeals process as it relates to a specific set of facts.
Depending on where an injury occured, victims should contact local attorneys for representation. A personal injury attorney in Los Angeles may be a better choice of representation than an attorney from say… San Diego.