Under certain circumstances, victims of negligence may be awarded punitive damages in addition to the compensatory damages they receive.
However, punitive damages are rare and are only awarded when the at-fault party’s actions are determined to have been especially negligent or reckless. If you have been severely injured or lost someone you love because of another’s negligence, contact a Georgia punitive damages lawyer to find out if you may be entitled to additional compensation.
At Roden Law, our wrongful death attorneys in Savannah understand the difficulty of losing a loved one to another’s negligence. We will provide you with a free, no obligation consultation to help you determine if you may be entitled to receive punitive damages from the at-fault party. Our attorneys will not hesitate to pursue every legal option available to help you obtain the maximum value of your claim. All of our services are provided on a contingency fee basis, which means our personal injury attorneys work for no upfront cost. We will only charge you if we obtain the compensation you deserve.
Call 1-844-RESULTS today to schedule a free consultation.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are compensation that a court may order the at-fault party in a civil lawsuit to pay if the at-fault party’s behavior was particularly reckless or maliciously intended to harm the victim.
Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are not intended to compensate the victim for the injury or loss he or she has suffered. Instead, punitive damages are a monetary punishment imposed by a court to punish and penalize the at-fault party while deterring others from committing the same actions in the future.
In some situations, a court may award the victim punitive damages if it believes that he or she was not adequately compensated by the compensatory damages. Likewise, a court may order the at-fault party to pay the victim punitive damages if the at-fault party’s actions were malicious but did not result in the victim receiving compensatory damages.
However, not every victim is entitled to punitive damages. There are rare circumstances where a court may award punitive damages in personal injury and wrongful death cases. An experienced punitive damages lawyer in Georgia will be able to review your claim to determine if you may be entitled to receive this type of monetary award.
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When Punitive Damages Are Awarded in Georgia
In Georgia, punitive damages are awarded in cases where the at-fault party’s actions displayed willful misconduct, malice, oppression, wantonness, fraud or gross negligence, according to O.C.G.A. § 51-12-51.
This often includes cases where the at-fault party was aware its actions could result in injury or death but disregarded others’ safety and well-being. This includes cases such as:
- Class actions where a large number of people were injured
- Cases where the at-fault party intentionally harmed the victim
- Personal injury lawsuits where the victim was severely harmed or maimed
- Medical malpractice cases where the at-fault health care provider’s negligence results in the patient’s injury or death
- Cases where the at-fault party’s actions were motivated by ill will, malicious intentions or where the at-faulty party’s conduct significantly diverted from acceptable social norms
It is often in victims’ best interest to consult with a punitive damages lawyer in Georgia who understands when these types of damages may be awarded. An attorney will know how to pursue these types of damages to help you obtain the maximum compensation you deserve.
Call 1-844-RESULTS to speak with a punitive damages lawyer in Georgia.
How Punitive Damages Are Awarded
In Georgia, punitive damages are awarded only if the victim’s case meets strict guidelines that justify monetarily penalizing the at-fault party. To determine whether a victim should be awarded punitive damages, a court will consider the following factors:
You Requested Punitive Damages
In Georgia, a court will only consider awarding punitive damages in a lawsuit if the victim’s attorney files a complaint specifically asking for these types of damages.
This means your Georgia punitive damages lawyer must have constructed a strong case that supports your claim that the at-fault party’s behavior was especially negligent, intentional or malicious and deviated from the actions of a reasonably prudent individual, corporation or entity.
The At-Fault Party’s Actions
Once the court has received your attorney’s complaint to request punitive damages, it will review the at-fault party’s actions to determine if they were more severe than common negligence.
This means the at-fault party must have acted with an obvious disregard for the victim’s safety and well-being in a way that justifies awarding the victim punitive damages to deter others from committing similar actions.
An example of this would be a wrongful death case in which the victim was killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver. The victim’s loved ones may be awarded punitive damages if they can show the at-fault driver displayed gross negligence or recklessness by operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol, which resulted in the victim’s death.
You Have Clear and Convincing Evidence
Additionally, Georgia requires there to be clear and convincing evidence to support your claim that the at-fault party’s actions displayed gross negligence, reckless disregard for others’ safety and well-being, or were intentional and malicious.
Our punitive damages attorneys in Georgia will thoroughly investigate your claim to find evidence that shows the at-fault party’s actions displayed a reckless indifference for others’ safety and well-being. We will then use this evidence to construct a case on your behalf that supports your request for punitive damages.
The Punitive Damages Are Proportional to Your Compensatory Damages
If a court finds that a victim can be awarded punitive damages, it will recommend a trial to review the evidence provided by your Georgia punitive damages lawyer.
The court will then determine an amount that will be sufficient to deter, penalize or punish the at-fault party based on the circumstances of the case.
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Georgia’s Cap on Punitive Damages
Although a court may decide to award a victim punitive damages, Georgia’s state law imposes several limitations on the maximum amount of damages he or she may receive.
There is no limit to the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded in a product liability case where the victim was injured or killed by a defective or dangerous product.
However, 75 percent of the punitive damages awarded in a product liability case must be provided to Georgia’s Office of the State Treasure. This amount will not include the cost of the victim’s litigation, including his or her attorney’s fees.
Recklessness or Intentional Harm
If it is found that the at-fault party acted particularly recklessly or intentionally harmed the victim, there is no limit to the amount of punitive damages the victim or his or her loved ones can be awarded.
This includes cases where the at-fault party caused the victim’s injury or death by acting, or refraining from acting, in a manner that he or she knew would risk the victim’s safety or well-being.
Specifically, this refers to cases where the at-fault party acted with malicious intent to injure or kill the victim, or the at-fault party’s use of drugs or alcohol caused the victim’s injury or death.
For any other act of negligence that does not involve product liability, malicious intent or recklessness, Georgia imposes a punitive damages cap limiting the damages to a maximum of $250,000.
Call 1-844-RESULTS to discuss your claim with an attorney.
Schedule a Free Consultation Today
If you believe you have a case against the at-fault party responsible for your injury or loved one’s death, do not hesitate to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
At Roden Law, our Georgia punitive damages lawyers will provide you with a free, no obligation consultation to review your claim and the at-fault party’s actions. Our attorneys are dedicated to defending the rights of victims of negligence. We will not hesitate to pursue every legal option available to help you receive the maximum value of your claim.
All of our services are provided on a contingency fee basis. This means we will not charge you upfront legal fees for representing your case. We only charge our clients if we help them obtain the results they deserve.