If you watch a lot of movies and television, you’re probably under the impression that courts award plaintiffs millions of dollars in damages. Some of these are awarded as pain and suffering. Another large chunk is awarded as punitive damages. It’s almost as if the court is always looking to punish a defendant for wrongdoing. Every Georgia personal injury lawyer knows this isn’t true. It doesn’t work that way.
As much as Georgia personal injury lawyers would love to get their clients huge settlements, they’re also realistic. They realized early on in their career that judges rarely award punitive damages. When they do, it’s only in cases where the defendant acted with extreme recklessness or indifference. It’s not easy to prove this kind of behavior, especially when you’re dealing with a car accident case or slip and fall lawsuit. These damages are typically awarded in product liability cases where a company sold dangerous toys, drugs, or tainted foods.
If you’ve been hurt in any sort of accident, it’s a good idea to talk to an experienced Georgia personal injury lawyer. This is true no matter whether you think you’re entitled to punitive damages or not. If you have a valid legal claim, you may be entitled to some form of damages. The best way to get what you deserve is to have a skilled attorney by your side.
What are Punitive Damages and Who’s Entitled to Them?
Punitive damages are awarded in cases where the defendant acted in such a terrible way that the judge feels they should be punished. Under the Georgia punitive damages statute, in order to convince the judge to award you punitive damages, your Georgia personal injury lawyer needs to show that the defendant was acted in one of the following ways:
- Willful misconduct
- Complete and total indifference
- Extreme gross negligence
Not only does your lawyer need to prove that the defendant acted atrociously, but they also need to do so by a high burden of proof.
Your Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer Needs to Prove Your Damages
Your attorney can’t just tell the court that a defendant is a bad person. You’ll need to show, by clear and convincing evidence, that the defendant deserves to be punished. This standard is not quite as hard to meet as the standard in criminal cases. Most people have heard that, to prove murder, you need to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt. Here, the standard isn’t quite that high. But it’s higher than it is in normal negligence cases.
It’s a very hard standard to reach. You need to convince the judge or jury that there is a very strong possibility that the defendant acted in the manner described above. It’s not enough to show that there was a 50/50 chance that they behaved this way.
Whether or Not There is a Cap Depends on the Type of Case
Every state has its own rules when it comes to putting a cap on punitive damages. In Georgia, punitive damages in run-of-the-mill negligence cases are capped at $250,000. If you’re suing under product liability, there’s no cap at all. However, in these cases, the state gets 75% of the punitive damages awarded.
Contact an Experienced Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer
The longer you wait to hire a Georgia personal injury lawyer, the longer you’ll have to wait for your money. You also have to make sure you pursue your claim before the statute of limitations period runs out. In Georgia, you only have two (2) years to file your personal injury suit. If you miss this deadline, it doesn’t matter who’s representing you. The judge is not going to grant an extension. You’ll be out of time and out of luck.
If you get your case filed on time, there’s a good chance you’ll receive damages. If your Georgia personal injury lawyer can prove the defendant was at fault, you should get the compensation you deserve. To know if you have a valid claim, however, you need to meet with an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney. They can review your case and let you know what your options are. They can also give you an idea of what your case is worth.
Call today and schedule your free, initial consultation. It costs you nothing and can give you the peace of mind you desperately need.