In cases where the negligent person was doing something especially reckless, such as drunk driving, punitive damages may be available. This is the one type of damage that isn’t about making you financially whole; it’s truly intended to punish the negligent part and discourage them from doing something that reckless again in the future.
Because these damages are just about punishment, they don’t all go to the plaintiff; 75 percent of punitive damages awarded at trial go to the state of Georgia.
In most Georgia personal injury cases where punitive damages are allowed, the cap is set at $250,000. However, there is no punitive damage cap in “intent to cause harm” cases or DUI and DWI cases.
Punitive damages aren’t unique to assaults or drunk driving accidents; they may also be applicable in product liability or other seemingly more mundane injuries. If it can be proven that the negligent party knowingly did something reckless – like manufacture and sell a product they knew to be dangerous – punitive damages could be available.
What If I Don’t Know How Much My Injuries Will Cost?
This is one of the most common issues people who are seriously injured run into. You can’t know exactly how much compensation you deserve until you’ve either undergone the treatments or your doctors are confident in what treatments you’ll need, how much rehabilitation you will need and what type of continuing care you’ll require.
There are several specific challenges that arise from this uncertainty:
- You likely need money right away and can’t afford to wait years to figure out exactly how much everything will cost
- There’s a statute of limitations on your case, meaning you can’t just wait indefinitely before filing a claim
- It may not be possible to determine exactly how many surgeries you’ll need, whether you’ll be able to return to work or what type of continuing care you’ll require afterwards
These types of things happen frequently with spine or traumatic brain injuries. Someone paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident may or may not ever walk again. Just like a person in a coma may or may not wake up.
In those cases, it’s important to work with attorneys who understand catastrophic injuries. These types of accident lawyers already have relationships with skilled medical experts who are familiar with making cost estimates for those types of serious injuries.
When Certain Types of Damages Are Available
Judges and juries decide on awarding punitive damages and non-economic damages, which include things like pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of consortium.
Non-economic types of compensation can be harder to get during settlement negotiations with insurance companies. The insurance company is usually only concerned with making an injured party whole for the economic damages they suffered.
Ask a Lawyer About Your Case
Providing a truly accurate estimate for what your damages may be is often impossible, but an attorney can, with enough information, calculate your preliminary economic damages. They can also provide their opinion on non-economic and punitive damages by taking into consideration previous cases that share similarities with your situation.
If you want to know if you have a case, or how much your case may be worth, the Dressie Law Firm would be happy to provide a free consultation. Call us at 770-756-6333 for additional information.