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What Are the Punitive Damages in a Car Accident?

When you got into an accident that was not your fault, you are entitled to general compensatory damages. Compensatory damages aim to “make you whole again” after an accident. However, in addition to compensatory damages, there are also punitive damages that take a completely different approach toward such accidents. Punitive damages exist as a separate category to punish drivers who exhibit truly egregious behavior behind the wheel.

In this blog, we will explore what qualifies for punitive damages in Georgia car accidents, the evidence needed to claim them, and the specific laws that govern them. If you believe the at-fault driver’s actions warrant such punishment in your case, consulting with a seasoned punitive damages attorney at Ponton Law can help you navigate the legal process.

Punitive Damages Definition: What Is It Exactly?

Let’s begin with the basics and define punitive damages. Compensatory damages reimburse you for the losses caused by the accident, while punitive damages aim at the driver’s behavior. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are not awarded based on your injuries. Instead, they are reserved for cases where the at-fault driver’s actions were particularly egregious. This means that phrases like “punitive damages emotional distress” or “punitive damages pain and suffering” are not applicable in these situations.

The meaning of punitive damages is twofold. First, it punishes the driver for outrageous behavior. Second, it deters others from similar behavior. It’s worth noting that punitive damages come with a high burden of proof in every state, including Georgia. So, it’s always a good idea to consult with an Atlanta car accident attorney to better handle the legal complexities of your case. 

What Qualifies for Punitive Damages in Georgia?

If the at-fault driver’s behavior was more than just careless or even intentional, victims can file a request for additional compensation in the form of punitive damages. This means that to qualify for punitive compensation in Georgia, the at-fault driver’s actions should go beyond mere negligence. In other words, the driver’s actions should have signs of being malicious, intentional, or showing disregard for safety. Examples of potential punitive charges are:

  • DUI: When a person drives under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they knowingly put others at risk. As a result, the court may award punitive damages.
  • Intentional Harm: This includes road rage incidents, intentional collisions, or other malicious acts. As discussed above, intentional misconduct can be grounds for awarding punitive damages. 
  • Driving recklessly: Reckless driving can take various forms. One example is when the driver responsible for an accident chooses to flee the scene instead of stopping to provide assistance. Another example would be texting and driving. 

Are Punitive Damages Recoverable in Georgia?

In Georgia, it is possible to recover punitive damages in certain legal cases. However, qualifying for punitive damages is not an easy task. It requires meeting specific legal standards and proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Another thing to note is that punitive damages are awarded in addition to compensatory damages. This means that you may receive punitive damages on top of the compensation for medical bills or lost wages. The compensatory and punitive damages both go directly to the victim. However, in the case of punitive damages for negligence on a gross scale, the sole purpose is to deter such a level of egregious behavior in the future, and not necessarily to further compensate the victim. 

What Evidence Is Needed for Punitive Damages?

If you decide to sue for punitive damages, you will need to gather strong evidence of the driver’s actions. This evidence can include police reports, witness statements, CCTV footage, or dashcam footage. However, it may not be enough to simply prove that the driver was grossly negligent. To qualify for punitive damages, you may also need to provide evidence of the driver’s intent or state of mind at the time of the accident. 

Gathering the evidence can be a complex legal process, so it’s important to seek guidance from a car accident lawyer who can assist you in building a strong case. Contact a car accident lawyer to get more information about punitive damages. Having a professional by your side can significantly increase your chances of getting the full compensation. Consult with our lawyers for free and let them assess the case for you. 

Are Punitive Damages Covered by Insurance in GA?

In Georgia, punitive damages insurance is legally permissible. This means that insurance policies can be designed to provide coverage against punitive damages that a policyholder may be liable to pay. 

To gain a better understanding of your insurance coverage, it’s recommended that you reach out to your insurance provider directly and get clarifications regarding the specifics of your policy. Or, you can also seek assistance from an auto insurance punitive damages specialist who will provide you with more specific information about your legal options. In this case, you can always contact our Atlanta punitive damages legal expert.

Does Georgia Have a Cap on Punitive Damages?

Yes, Georgia has a cap on punitive damages. For most cases, the cap is determined at $250,000. However, you also need to be aware that according to the law, 75% of the punitive damages are to be paid to the state of Georgia. 

Despite the cap being in effect, some important potential exceptions may still apply to your case. These exceptions can involve complex legal arguments. Consulting with a lawyer experienced in Georgia car accident cases is crucial to determine if any exceptions might apply to your situation. So, consider getting in touch with an expert to explore legal options after accident from reckless driver

Contact Us Today

Every road incident is different and requires a unique approach to determine the legal options at hand. If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a reckless driver, you may be wondering if your case qualifies as punitive damages car accident.

At Ponton Law, we can help you understand your legal rights and explore all available options for seeking compensation. Call us for a free consultation to discuss your specific situation at (404) 850-9516