Will the Judge Order Punitive Damages in Your Atlanta Auto Accident Lawsuit?

When you get hurt in a car accident, you want the other driver to pay. It’s sometimes not enough for them to pay for your medical bills and lost pay. Sometimes, you want them to be punished, one way the courts do that is by ordering a driver to pay punitive damages for the accident they caused. Atlanta auto accident attorneys understand, however, that these types of damages are rare in a typical car accident case.

Your Atlanta Auto Accident Attorney Will Demand Certain Damages

Since the whole point of hiring an Atlanta auto accident attorney is to get compensation for your injuries, you’d expect them to demand damages. In most car accident cases, attorneys ask for the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Future medical care
  • Lost wages
  • Lost future income
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages
  • Permanent disability

Depending on the seriousness and strength of your case, your Atlanta auto accident attorney will demand some or all of these damages. In order to receive any damages, however, you need to prove your case. This means you’ll need to demonstrate that the defendant was negligent.

In order to do this, your lawyer needs to prove the following four (4) things:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care
  • They breached this duty
  • You were hurt
  • Your injuries were directly caused by the defendant’s breach of duty

Since each case is unique, the only way to know what your case may be worth is to talk to an Atlanta auto accident attorney as soon as you can after your car crash.

What Exactly are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are special damages awarded by the judge in a civil lawsuit. They’re meant to send a message to a defendant who acted in a grossly negligent manner. For example, if someone was drunk driving or going 110 miles per hour at the time of your crash, the judge may be willing to consider punitive damages. However, if it’s a regular, garden variety accident, the judge isn’t going to award this kind of compensation.

Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant. It’s also a way for the court to send a message to the public that this sort of behavior won’t be tolerated. These types of damages are reserved for cases where the defendant’s behavior is reprehensible. It’s not often that the judge would be willing to issue this sort of damages.

Why are the Courts So Reluctant to Award Punitive Damages?

Judges only award punitive damages when they want to punish the defendant. They also do this when they want to send a message to the public. In some cases, such as drunk driving accidents, this makes sense. But when the accident was a true accident, with no gross negligence involved, that’s the wrong message to send. Everybody makes mistake. Yes, if someone causes a car crash and you get hurt, they should have to pay. But that’s why they carry auto insurance. It wouldn’t be fair to punish every driver who gets into a fender bender or honest to goodness accident.

If the defendant acts in a way that shocks the conscience, then the judge is certainly going to consider awarding you punitive damages. These cases are few and far between. Since most accident cases involve nothing more than a mistake being made on the part of the defendant, there wouldn’t be a reason to punish the defendant.

Talk to an Experienced Atlanta Auto Accident Attorney

One of the reasons people hire an Atlanta auto accident attorney is to get compensation for their injuries. Yes, they want justice. It feels good to see the person responsible for your crash to be taken to task. However, it really comes down to getting as much money as possible. Atlanta accident lawyers know how to do that for their clients.

In order to get their clients the money they deserve, Atlanta auto accident attorneys need to prove that the other party was at fault. They also need to prove that you actually suffered damages. If they can’t do these two things, then it doesn’t matter what kind of damages you may have been entitled to. However, if they can prove your case, they’ll demand that you be compensated.

Generally speaking, the courts don’t like to award punitive damages in car accident cases. However, depending on the facts of your case, your Atlanta auto accident attorney may be able to make this claim. The only way to know for sure is to call and talk to an experienced Atlanta auto accident attorney as soon as possible after your car wreck.