One of the first things clients ask our Marietta car accident attorneys is how much their case is worth. They also want to know if they can demand punitive damages. While you can certainly demand them, the odds of the judge awarding you punitive damages are low.
Why Are Drunk Driving Accidents So Different from Other Accidents?
Our Marietta accident attorneys meet with hundreds of accident victims every year. The clients that tend to suffer the worst injuries are those who were hurt in a drunk driving accident. A large part of this is because drunk drivers are reckless.
The other thing about drunk driving accidents is that they were 100% preventable. The defendant chose to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. In other types of accidents, the defendant was negligent in some way. They didn’t act on purpose.
Your Marietta Accident Attorney Will Argue That the Defendant Acted Recklessly
Even if you don’t convince the judge that you deserve punitive damages, that doesn’t mean you’ll walk away empty-handed. Your injury lawyer in Marietta will argue that the defendant acted recklessly.
If you can demonstrate that the other driver was reckless, it will help your case tremendously. At a minimum, it may help your attorney get you more money for pain and suffering.
You Can Also Argue That the Other Driver Intentionally Put Other Drivers at Risk
One other way to convince the judge that you’re entitled to punitive damages is to show them how inconsiderate the defendant was. By drinking and driving, the other driver was showing that they didn’t care if other people got hurt.
Acting so callously is something that should be punished. If you can show that the defendant put other lives at risk on purpose, it will help your case.
Your Injury Lawyer in Marietta Will Demand Two Types of Damages
When your injury lawyer in Marietta files your complaint, they will demand two types of damages. The first type is economic damages. These are the losses they can prove using receipts and other physical evidence.
The second type is non-economic damages. These are the losses you cannot put a price on. They can’t be documented in any way. They are intangible. Your Marietta accident attorney will have to find other ways to prove your non-economic damages.
You Will Likely Be Entitled to Economic Damages
Most drunk driving accident victims will be entitled to significant damages. As far as economic damages go, your injury lawyer in Marietta will demand the following:
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost future income
- Property damage
When your attorney negotiates your settlement, they will insist that these damages be paid in full. They aren’t going to let you walk away in debt.
Your Marietta Accident Attorney Will Also Demand Non-Economic Damages
Drunk driving accidents usually cause devastating injuries. You will more than likely be entitled to some or all of the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Anxiety and depression
- Decrease in your quality of life
There is no way to put a price on these losses. Your Marietta accident attorney will initially value your non-economic damages quite highly. This way, they’ll have a buffer when it comes time to settle your case.
Punitive Damages Are Not Often Awarded in Car Accident Lawsuits
Punitive damages are ordered when the judge wants to punish the defendant. They like to make an example out of certain defendants so they can send a message to the public. However, this rarely happens in a personal injury lawsuit.
The judges usually reserve punitive damages for cases filed against large corporations. If your Marietta accident attorney asks for punitive damages, the judge will probably deny it. They may even get frustrated if you push the issue too much.
The Courts Very Rarely Order Defendants to Pay Punitive Damages
As a rule, courts do not order defendants to pay these types of damages. When they do, it’s usually when the defendant acted recklessly or intentionally. Unless your injury lawyer in Marietta can prove that the defendant behaved in this manner, you won’t receive punitive damages.
Georgia Limits the Amount You Can Receive in Punitive Damages
In most car accident lawsuits, there’s a limit to how much you can receive. Georgia law caps punitive damages at $250,000. However, this cap on punitive damages doesn’t apply if the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Even if you are awarded punitive damages, 75% of the amount will go to the state treasury. You will only receive the remaining 25%.
There’s a Good Chance Your Injury Lawyer in Marietta Will Settle Your Case
Some of our clients are surprised to learn that more than 95% of all car accident lawsuits are settled out of court. Trials are expensive and time-consuming. Plus, most of our clients would rather have a lump sum of cash than wait around for a trial.
When your injury lawyer in Marietta negotiates a settlement with the defendant’s attorney, they fight to get you as much as possible. However, there is no way the defendant will agree to pay you extra money in punitive damages.
A Defendant Would Rarely Agree to Pay Punitive Damages in Your Settlement
It’s one thing for the defendant’s attorney to agree to settle out of court. They probably have a good idea that they could lose in court. It’s common for insurance companies to deny a large claim knowing they can settle for less down the road.
The only way you’ll get punitive damages is if your case goes to trial. Just keep in mind that, even if you win at trial, the judge is not likely to award you punitive damages anyway. You’re much better off letting your attorney negotiate a fair settlement instead.
Contact a Marietta Accident Attorney if You Want Compensation for Your Injuries
If you’ve been hurt in any sort of accident, you should call our office. Our Marietta injury lawyers work hard to make sure you get as much money as possible. We also offer new clients a free, initial consultation. Call and schedule yours today. #WeinsteinWin!