Can I Get Punitive Damages For A Car Accident?
Car accidents can be catastrophic, completely unending nearly all aspects of your life. When your collision was caused by someone else’s negligent conduct, it can make all the heartache and struggle even harder to accept. Luckily, there are legal means for you to hold the negligent driver accountable and recover all damages that you incurred as a result of the crash. By bringing a lawsuit with the help of an Alpharetta personal injury lawyer, you allow the court to help try and restore you to the financial position that you would have been in before the accident. Whether to take legal action is a personal decision, and we understand that there can be many factors to weigh, but if you have been seriously injured and require extensive medical care, often a personal injury lawsuit is the only way to ensure that you will have the resources to adequately care for yourself and move on with your life. In some cases, you may be entitled to additional damages, known as punitive damages.
Understanding Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Personal injury lawsuits allow you to recover damages for all expenses related to medical treatment for the crash, as well as property damage, compensation for lost wages or reduced earning potential, compensation for pain and suffering, and, in some cases, punitive damages. Compensatory damages in a personal injury lawsuit for medical expenses should be closely estimated based on actual and anticipated medical costs, whereas compensation for pain and suffering is not tied directly to a number as it is not meant to reimburse the party for an actual expense, but a suffering that cannot be quantified. Generally, courts use a formula to calculate the pain and suffering amount based on the total amount of compensatory damages and the permanence and severity of the injury. In some cases, as discussed in more detail below, punitive damages may also be appropriate.
Punitive Damages for a Car Accident
Punitive damages are appropriate when the liable party’s actions demonstrate that their actions were intentional, malicious, or done with conscious disregard for the possible consequences. These awards are intended to make an example out of the negligent party. In car accident cases, this threshold for punitive damages is often reached where the liable party was drag racing, driving exceedingly fast and reckless without regard for the consequences, or intentionally hit or collided with another party’s car (such as in an incident of road rage or to intentionally harm them).
In some states, punitive damages are unlimited and often extend into the millions. However, in Georgia, there is a $250,000 cap on punitive damages awards, and only 25% of the award will be retained by the plaintiff, with the rest going to the state. There are a few exceptions though. First, the punitive damages cap does not apply to product liability claims. Second, it does not apply if the other driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and third, it does not apply if the other party intentionally harmed you.
Talk to an Atlanta Car Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one have been seriously harmed in an Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek, Sandy Springs, or greater Georgia area car accident that was caused by another party’s reckless, wanton, or over-the-top behavior, Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers will get you the settlement that you deserve. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.