It is perfectly understandable for an accident victim to be angry at the person who caused the crash. In fact, most of the people that our Roswell car accident lawyers meet with are very angry.
They want justice and justice comes in the form of compensation. The question is whether they can convince the court to award them punitive damages.
Your Roswell Accident Attorney Will Demand Economic Damages on Your Behalf
In most of the car accident lawsuits we handle, our clients can prove that they’re entitled to certain damages. For the most part, these damages include economic losses such as the following.
- Property damage: If your vehicle is damaged or destroyed as a result of the motor vehicle accident, the defendant will be responsible for whatever it costs to repair or replace your car or SUV.
- Lost wages: If your injuries were serious enough to keep you out of work, your Roswell car accident lawyer may demand damages for lost wages.
- Lost future income: Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may not be able to return to work as a result of your crash. In this case, your Roswell car accident lawyer will demand compensation for lost future income.
- Medical bills: Obviously, your Roswell car accident lawyer will demand that you be reimbursed any money that you’ve paid toward medical bills. Your attorney can also demand that you be compensated for any future medical care you may need.
As you can see, nowhere on this list does the term “punitive damages” appear. This is for two reasons. First, it is very difficult to convince the court to grant you punitive damages. Second, punitive damages are not a form of economic damages.
Your Roswell Car Accident Lawyer Will Probably Request Non-Economic Damages as Well
Now that we’ve explained the different types of economic damages you can receive, it is important to point out that your Roswell car accident lawyer can also demand non-economic damages.
The most common type of non-economic damages is pain and suffering. These damages are meant to compensate you for any physical or mental anguish you suffer as a result of the collision.
Punitive Damages Are Meant to Punish the Defendant for Their Behavior
In addition to non-economic and economic damages, your Roswell car accident lawyer may demand that you be paid punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for the role they played in your accident.
When a judge orders a defendant to pay punitive damages, it is because they want to send a message to other drivers. They want to make it abundantly clear that if people choose to behave in the manner in which the defendant behaved, they will pay the price.
Judges Very Rarely Award Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Cases
It’s difficult to get a judge to order punitive damages in a car accident case because it’s very rare that a driver would act with intent. In other words, most motor vehicle accidents are just that – accidents.
It is very difficult to imagine somebody getting behind the wheel of a car hoping that they’ll get into an accident. In almost all the cases our Roswell accident attorneys handle, the at-fault party feels terrible about what they’ve done.
There’s no point in punishing somebody if they had no intention of hurting somebody in the first place.
Our Roswell Accident Attorneys Typically See Punitive Damages Awarded in Mass Tort Actions
Usually, when our Roswell accident attorneys see punitive damages being granted, it’s in cases involving large corporations. For example, if an auto manufacturer releases a dangerous vehicle to the market, they may be ordered to pay punitive damages.
Sometimes, the defendants in these cases knew there was a risk of people getting hurt, but believed it was cheaper to leave their products on the market.
Drunk driving accidents are another scenario where courts tend to award punitive damages.
This Doesn’t Mean You Can Never Receive Punitive Damages
Just because punitive damages are rarely granted, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for you to receive them. If you can show that the other driver behaved in a certain manner, your Roswell car accident lawyer may convince a judge to award you compensation.
Can Your Roswell Accident Attorney Prove the Defendant Acted Intentionally?
If your Roswell car accident lawyer can prove that the defendant intentionally caused the accident, you would more than likely receive punitive damages. The same will be true if the defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.
Some of the other instances in which a car accident victim could receive punitive damages include the following:
- The defendant had no concern for public safety at the time of the crash.
- The defendant is a habitual offender and has been cited many times for reckless driving.
- The behavior of the defendant can only be described as reckless and egregious.
If your Roswell car accident lawyer can prove any of these things, there is a chance that you may collect punitive damages.
Is There a Cap on Punitive Damages in Georgia?
Like many other states, Georgia has placed a cap on punitive damages. According to OCGA 51-12-51, the most you can expect to receive in punitive damages is $250,000. The legislature was afraid that anything higher than this would be considered a windfall for plaintiffs.
However, the cap doesn’t apply if the at-fault driver was intoxicated.
Sit Down With an Experienced Roswell Car Accident Lawyer to Discuss Your Case
When our Georgia car accident lawyers meet with a client for the first time, the client is typically very angry. By this point, they have usually already received the medical attention they need. All they want to do is get justice and make sure that they are paid for their injuries.
The good news is that our Roswell injury attorneys have decades of combined experience handling cases just like yours. While it is very rare to convince the judge to award punitive damages in a car accident case, it is not impossible. And we have seen it happen a handful of times over the years.
Since we do offer all new clients a free, initial consultation, it’s in your best interest to call today and schedule yours.