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Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Claims

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Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Claims

Under Georgia Law, punitive damages may be availabe in certain types of personal injury cases. The conduct giving rise to punitive damages must be proven by "clear and convincing evidence." The purpose behind punitive damages is to punish the behavior of the person that has caused the injury. Punitive damages are payable to the personal injury victim and are in addition to the the money that is recoverable for the injury claim itself. It is extremely important that your Atlanta Accident Attorney understand how and when punitive damages are available as it can many times mean the difference between tens of thousands of dollars on your Georgia Personal Injury Claim.

An injured person has a clear right to receive punitive damages, in addition to compensatory damages, in cases where the other person's actions show willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences. O.C.G.A. section 51-12-5.1(b). Below we have provided Georgia's entire code section regarding punitive damages.

It is important to remember that In order to punish and deter the wrongdoer, a jury is entitled to hear about prior incidents of misconduct as a way to gauge the amount of punishment that should be issued in the instant case. This is necessary to determine that amount of punitive damages necessary to prevent the defendant from doing the same type of activity. Thus, it is very important for your Atlanta Injury Lawyer to make sure that he or she does a thorough investigation into the background of the other party to determine if there is a pattern of behavior that shows that the other person has committed similar offenses.

Some examples of personal injury claims that may warrant punitive damages are the following:

  1. Driving under the Influence - (We have been very successful in claims against drunk drivers - click here for a list of our recent results.)
  2. Hit and Run - (It is extremely important to locate and identify the other driver early on - otherwise it is highly unlikely that a punitive damage claim can be brought).
  3. Racing/Road Rage - (Punitive damages are available in situations where two or more people are racing their vehicles or there is a road rage situation. The inherent problem with most of these cases is proving that either racing or road rage was involved.)
  4. Intentional Acts/Assault/Battery - (In these types of claim punitive damages are likely to be available, the problem many times is that insurance policies exclude claims made as a result of an intentional act. If you are presented with this situation, you should contact an Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer immediately as there may be ways around the insurance company's exclusion).

It is also worth noting that punitive damages are not available if someone is simply talking on the cell phone or texting at the time of the auto wreck. While this is the current status of the law in Georgia, it is our hope that this will change as the public better understands the dangers associated with Distracted Driving in Georgia.

Georgia's punitive damage statute is found at O.C.G.A. section 51-12-5.1

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