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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