Punitive damages are one of three types of damages awarded in personal injury cases, after compensatory and general damages. Punitive damages aren’t always awarded, but when they are, they can significantly increase the value of a claim. Here’s what you should know about punitive damages and getting legal help after you were the victim of a serious accident.
Personal Injury Damages Explained
Personal injury damages are the law’s way of providing financial compensation to an individual who was injured in an accident caused by the negligence of someone else. Primarily, restitution is designed to cover expenses like lost wages and medical bills.
How Compensatory and Punitive Damages Differ
The two primary types of damages in personal injury cases are compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are awarded most frequently and are meant to provide financial restitution for the victim for their financial and emotional suffering. Punitive damages are also awarded to the accident victim, however, they are meant to go over and beyond compensatory damages when the person who caused the accident was grossly negligent.
When Are Punitive Damages Awarded?
Punitive damages are often called exemplary damages and are only awarded in very serious personal injury cases. Depending on how severe the accident and resulting injuries were, and how careless the responsible party was, adding punitive damages to a personal injury lawsuit often tips the scales to a multi-million dollar case.
For this reason, Georgia courts ensure that punitive damages are awarded only in cases of egregious negligence. For example, if a driver causes a fatal DUI accident and their BAC was nearly double the legal limit of 0.08%, a court may want to include punitive damages to deter the driver from repeating the same extremely careless behavior.
Another common example of cases that include punitive damages are instances of medical malpractice. Doctors have a great deal of responsibility, and the potential harm they can do to a patient is also significant. Courts will often penalize physicians with high punitive damages in cases of extreme negligence to demonstrate this, particularly if the injury was caused by a never-event, such as leaving a surgical instrument behind in a patient’s body after a procedure.
Injured? Call Southside Injury Law Now
If you or a family member were injured as a result of negligence or carelessness in the extreme, you deserve to be compensated for your emotional and financial damages. The individual whose gross negligence caused the accident should be held accountable for their actions. Contact Southside Injury Law today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. Call now at (800) 393-8595.