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What Are Punitive Damages in an Atlanta Car Crash Claim?

Woman reading letter for Atlanta car crash claim

In an Atlanta car crash claim, you can seek a wide range of compensatory damages. These damages are available if another driver’s negligence resulted in the accident and resulting injuries. In most car crash claims, you can seek economic and non-economic damages for your crash-related losses. An Atlanta car accident lawyer can help you recover these damages from the at-fault driver.

Less frequently, you may also be entitled to receive punitive damages for injuries suffered in an accident. These damages are not available for all car crash claims. This is because punitive damages are awarded with a specific intent. Here is a look what punitive damages are and when they may be awarded.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are a type of monetary award in a personal injury claim. This particular type of damages is in contrast to the rest of damages recoverable in a car crash claim. All other types of damages you can seek in your claim are termed as ‘compensatory damages.’ This is simply because these damages are meant to compensate you for the actual losses you suffered in the accident.

Punitive damages, on the other hand, are meant as a punishment for the at-fault driver. The purpose of these damages is not to compensate you for any losses. Instead, their purpose is to deter the negligent driver from committing a similar act of negligence in the future.

When Are Punitive Damages Awarded?

Punitive damages are awarded only when the at-fault party is guilty of gross negligence or deliberate misconduct. In other words, you must be able to show that the other driver was exceptionally reckless and showed little to no regard for your safety in a car wreck.

For compensatory damages, you only need to show that the other driver breached ‘duty of care.’ But in the case of punitive damages, it must be shown that the driver deliberately or recklessly committed this breach.

Some examples of driver misconduct and recklessness that may warrant punitive damages in a car accident claim include:

Driving Under the Influence:

The risks associated with drunk driving are understood by all drivers. If a driver still drives under the influence of alcohol or drugs and causes an accident, he or she may be liable for punitive damages as well.

Hit-and-Run Accidents:

A hit-and-run driver shows a complete disregard for the safety of a potential victim as well as the laws related to car accident reporting requirements. Such a driver may face punitive damages in addition to criminal charges.

Excessive Speeding:

A driver speeding way above the posted speed limit shows disregard for the local traffic rules and the safety of others on the road. If such a driver causes a crash with injury or fatality, victims can successfully sue for punitive damages.

Intentional Misconduct:

If intentional or reckless misconduct on the part of a driver causes a crash, punitive damages may be awarded. For instance, if a driver tailgates another vehicle at a high speed, deliberately collides with another vehicle, or performs any other deliberate acts that cause a crash, he or she may be forced to pay punitive damages.

Georgia Laws for Punitive Damages

Most states place caps on the maximum amount of punitive damages that may be awarded in a personal injury claim. As per Georgia Code Section 51-12-5.1, the maximum amount of punitive damages is $250,000. So if you are entitled to punitive damages in a car crash claim, you will likely receive an amount within this limitation.

There are some exceptions to this limitation, though. If a driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs when causing the accident, the limitation does not apply. Similarly, if the driver acted with specific intent to harm you when causing the accident, there will be no bar on punitive damages. In such cases, the judge and jury may award an amount of punitive damages that is proportionate to the driver’s misconduct.

Why Hire an Atlanta Auto Accident Lawyer?

If you have suffered an Atlanta car crash due to the deliberate or reckless misconduct of a person, it is important to get legal help. As noted above, you may be entitled to receive punitive damages.

Here at Ted Greve & Associates, we help you recover the maximum amount of compensatory and punitive damages in a car crash claim. We also help you prove the negligence and reckless misconduct of the at-fault driver. Get in touch with us today to discuss your car crash claim with our lawyers.