Most people know that victims of car accidents in Atlanta are entitled to money for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. What you may not know, however, that in some circumstances they may also be entitled to “punitive damages,” which is extra money meant to punish a driver who acted very recklessly.
When it comes to car wreck cases, punitive damages are the exception rather than the rule. However, the facts in certain cases can support a claim for punitive damages, and an Atlanta car accident attorney should always thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding an accident to determine if such a claim is appropriate. For example, if a car wreck is caused by a driver who was racing, excessively speeding, or driving drunk, the victim of the wreck may be entitled to extra punitive damages.
The Case for Punitive Damages for Racing
We recently represented a client who was injured in a car wreck and successfully pursued a claim for punitive damages. In that case, a teenager admitted to the police that he was traveling “87 to 90 miles per hour” through a subdivision prior to the collision. Moreover, an eyewitness who witnessed the accident and called 911 reported she saw him racing another vehicle down the parkway before smashing into the back of our client’s vehicle. Although he tried to stop at the last second, the teenage driver was unable to avoid the collision due to his excessively high rate of speed. The police officer investigating the accident noted skid marks measuring 117 feet.
Along with compensation for her injuries, our client sought recovery of punitive damages from the teenager, due to the egregious nature of the conduct which led to the accident. The teenager’s attorneys asked the judge to throw out our claim for punitive damages before we even got to trial, but the judge ruled that we were entitled to present our claim to the jury.
Georgia’s Punitive Damages Law
In Georgia, punitive damages are recoverable when the at-fault party’s actions demonstrate “willful misconduct” or “conscious indifference to the consequences.” Under this standard, punitive damages are typically not awarded in cases involving car wrecks because most of the time the wreck occurred due to driver negligence, rather than willful misconduct. However, punitive damages are authorized when the accident results from intentionally dangerous driving, such as excessive speeding, racing, or driving drunk.
In our case, there was evidence that:
- The teenager was traveling 40+ mph over the speed limit in a residential subdivision at night;
- He was racing another vehicle prior to the collision; and
- He had an extensive history of speeding.
Based on this evidence, the judge ruled that we were entitled to present our case for punitive damages to the jury.
In our case, we found eyewitnesses who testified to the excessive speeding and racing, and we also uncovered that the teenager’s car was equipped with a GPS monitor which issued speed warnings every time the vehicle reached 60 miles per hour or greater. By comparing the dates, times and locations of the recorded warnings, we proved the number of times the teenager had been speeding during the year leading up the accident. This evidence proved that the teenager had a history of speeding.
The defense attorneys in the case were obviously worried about this evidence, and they asked the judge to toss it out before we got to trial. We won, however, and the judge ruled that the evidence supported our claim for punitive damages. Soon after this ruling, the defense caved and paid over $350,000.00 to settle our client’s case!
Speak to an Atlanta Car Accident Attorney Today
If you are the victim of a wreck caused by a driver who was drinking, racing, or excessively speeding, contact the Atlanta car accident lawyers at Andersen, Tate & Carr for representation. We can help pursue your claim and investigate whether you are entitled to additional money based on punitive damages.
- Tips To Make Your Divorce Easier On The Entire Family
- Criminal Defense Attorney Pat McDonough Recognized With The Gwinnett County Chamber’s Public Service Award
- Insurance Company Pays More Than 2X Policy Limits Following Jury Trial
- Trinity Hundredmark Receives Moxie Award For Her Continued Work In Gwinnett County
- Why You Should Consider Finalizing Your Divorce Before 2019
- Trinity Hundredmark Named Moxie Awards Finalist
- Pain and Suffering: What is It and What to Know?
- Parental Kidnapping Laws In Georgia: Acting In The Best Interests Of The Child
- ATC Attorney Trinity Hundredmark Nominated For The Moxie Award
- Recreational and Medical Marijuana’s Effect On Georgians
- January 2019
- December 2018
- November 2018
- October 2018
- September 2018
- August 2018
- July 2018
- June 2018
- May 2018
- April 2018
- March 2018
- February 2018
- January 2018
- December 2017
- November 2017
- October 2017
- September 2017
- August 2017
- June 2017
- May 2017
- April 2017
- March 2017
- February 2017
- December 2016
- November 2016
- October 2016
- September 2016
- August 2016
- July 2016
- June 2016
- May 2016
- April 2016
- March 2016
- February 2016
- January 2016
- December 2015
- November 2015
- October 2015
- April 2015
- October 2014
- September 2014
- July 2014
- March 2014