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.

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

Punitive damages can be many times larger than compensatory damages.

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.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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