Punitive damages may be sought under Georgia law for certain personal injury cases. These are financial awards that serve to punish the wrongful or negligent party for his behavior.
The conduct leading to punitive damages must be proven by "clear and convincing evidence." Punitive damages are amounts in addition to the figure that is recoverable for the injury itself and are payable to the victim. An experienced Clayton County personal injury attorney should understand when punitive damages are available.
According to Section 51-12-5.1(b) of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.), an accident victim has a right to punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages when the offender's actions show willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences. When determining if punitive damages are appropriate and if so, calculating the proper amount, a jury may hear about an offender's prior violations. A Georgia personal injury attorney should do thorough and exhaustive research into the offender's history and background to determine if there is a history of violations that would entitle the victim to punitive damages.
Personal injury claims where punitive damages may be warranted include:
- DUI accidents or impaired drivers
- Certain auto accidents including:
- Road rage or racing (where the victim was not necessarily engaging in the same behavior)
Punitive damages are not available in wrongful death claims or distracted driving cases.
An experienced Clayton County personal injury attorney will aggressively pursue a case to get fair compensation for the victim. Call Shane Smith Law at (980) 246-2656 to schedule a free legal consultation.