If you’ve been hurt in an accident, you’re probably aware you can recover damages to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. But in egregious injury cases, you may also be entitled to punitive damages.
At The Champion Firm, we know you’re in a difficult situation and unsure of everything you may be owed. We can help you navigate the legal complexities and determine if you can pursue punitive damages to punish those at fault. Contact our team of Atlanta personal injury lawyers for a 100% free consultation about how to secure max compensation.
Punitive Damages in Georgia
In most personal injury cases, punitive damages are different than compensation awarded. These damages are supposed to be a punishment for the defendant’s actions. Under Georgia law, punitive damages can be granted if the judge believes the defendant was grossly negligent. Specifically, if the defendant engaged in “willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or a conscious indifference to consequences.”
This means that if the person that caused your injuries intentionally meant to hurt you or didn’t care that their negligence would cause an accident, the judge might decide to punish them.
When Do Punitive Damages Apply?
Georgia law does not award punitive damages in every case. They are reserved for situations where the defendant’s behavior is considered outrageous or grossly negligent. This penalty is designed to keep the defendant from engaging in similar behavior and serve as a lesson to anyone who might follow in their footsteps.
Common scenarios that may warrant punitive damages include drunk driving, drugged driving, felony assault, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, sexual assault, and robbery.
Punitive damages can only be imposed on active tortfeasors. Other parties who may have contributed to your injuries but are not directly responsible can only be held accountable for compensatory damages, not punitive ones.
If a drunk driver struck you, you might have grounds to file a claim against the driver and the establishment that over-served them. You can pursue punitive damages from the drunk driver because they are the active tortfeasor in your case. However, if the establishment has a history of overserving alcohol or serving intoxicated patrons, punitive damages might apply.
Who Pays Punitive Damages?
If you are awarded punitive damages, the defendant’s insurance company will pay the full amount. It cannot argue that the punitive damages are not their responsibility. However, you cannot be awarded these damages from a claim with your insurer.
Punitive Damages Limits in Georgia
In Georgia, there is a cap of $250,000 on punitive damages. However, there are instances when there isn’t a limit on the punitive damages available. Specifically, there aren’t caps for cases where the defendant meant to hurt you, cases of product liability, or if the defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
A judge might consider awarding punitive damages for cases like:
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Felony assault
- Nursing home abuse
- Sexual assault
- Sexual assault of a minor
- Drunk or drugged driving
Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Cases
You’ll need clear and convincing evidence to prove to the judge or jury that they should award you punitive damages. Your attorney must prove the defendant was directly responsible for your injuries. To be awarded punitive damages, it must be proven that the defendant’s actions were intentional or reckless. If you cannot show the defendant was more than simply inattentive or negligent, you may not convince the judge that the defendant should pay punitive damages.
You’ll need evidence supporting your claim beyond a preponderance of evidence. Your attorney could introduce evidence that shows the defendant had acted similarly in the past. Eyewitness statements could be useful as well.
How a Lawyer Helps Secure Punitive Damages
Your personal injury attorney at The Champion Firm knows you face challenges after someone intentionally hurt you. We will review your case to determine whether punitive damages might be available. If we can apply for damages, we’ll gather the evidence to convince the judge and jury to impose punitive damages.
Our experienced attorneys know that a case involving intentional harm can be traumatic. We take great care in handling such investigations. We’ll work to bring the defendant to justice.
Get Justice with The Champion Firm
When punitive damages apply to your injury case, you need an attorney who can help secure everything you’re entitled to and prevent future accidents from harming others. At The Champion Firm, we can explain the law and help secure maximum compensation. Contact us today for a no-cost, risk-free consultation.