If you are wondering if your car accident case is worth millions of dollars, the answer may depend upon whether you are entitled to recover punitive damages. As the name indicates, punitive damages are awarded to punish a defendant for egregious conduct and to deter other parties from engaging in similar behaviors.
Georgia law provides that punitive damages can be awarded in a personal injury case when it is proven be clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions demonstrated “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. § 51-12-5.1.
This means that a defendant that made a simple mistake will not be subjected to punitive damages. Mere negligence or even gross negligence is typically not sufficient to support an award of punitive damages. You must usually show that they defendant’s conduct was extreme, outrageous and the type of behavior that society does not want to accept in order to recover punitive damages.
In the context of personal injuries caused by car accidents, an impaired driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a behavior that justifies punitive damages under Georgia law. It is important to understand that it is not required that the defendant be convicted of DUI by a criminal court in order to be liable for punitive damages in your civil personal injury lawsuit. Other examples of cases where punitive damages may be recovered include an accident that was caused by a driver who was racing, speeding or left the scene of an accident.
Having an experienced attorney on your side is crucial to obtaining all the financial compensation you deserve for your injury. The attorneys of Murphy & Garner, LLC, have over 32 years of experience serving clients in western Georgia and the surrounding area. We will fight for your rights and get you the compensation you deserve. Call us today for a free consultation at (866) 942-0552 or (678) 563-1584.