LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lawyers for a man who was hurt in an LA accident are asking a California appeals court for permission to seek punitive damages against the driver responsible, who they claim was texting.

Attorneys for Joseph Schultz say Tuesday they want the court to overturn a lower court ruling that barred punitive damages in their negligence suit against the driver in the 2010 accident.

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If the court agrees, it could be the first such ruling in the country.

Punitive damages can be many times larger than compensatory damages.

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Schultz’s suit contends the driver, Serob Terarutyunyan, struck several cars on the 134 Freeway and forced Schultz off the road, where his SUV slammed into a tree. He suffered moderate injuries.

A message left for the driver’s lawyer wasn’t immediately returned Tuesday.

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