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When Can Punitive Damages Be Pursued in a Personal Injury Case?

In this video, attorney Ted Spaulding reviews what general areas of damage you’re allowed to pursue in every case, along with a timeline of when those punitive damages come into play. He also explains what punitive damages are.

When can punitive damages be pursued in a personal injury case? Keep watching this video to find out. Hi, I’m Ted Spaulding. I’m an Atlanta personal injury trial lawyer, and I’m the founder here at Spaulding Injury Law. So punitive damages. To answer this question, first, we got to know what are your general areas of damage you’re allowed to pursue in every case, and then what and when those punitive damages come into play. So your typical areas to remind you are your medical bills, lost wages, if you have them, and pain and suffering. So those are your typical three areas that you will be seeking compensation for in a personal injury case. Now the question is, “Hey, do I have punitive damages that can add as a fourth layer of damages to that?” Well, it depends is the answer and, quite frankly, 90-plus percent of the time, no, you are not gonna have punitive damages that you can pursue.

So what are punitive damages? They are what’s called in Georgia Law, exemplary damages. They’re there to punish the defendant to deter them from this kind of action and others from this kind of action in the future. So it’s got to be real horrible conduct. Okay. It’s not just your ordinary negligence, it’s not your car wreck, where no one was drunk or high. It just, you know, wasn’t paying attention, that sort of thing. It’s got to be real egregious conduct, and there’s an actual statute on it that runs through those areas and, in general, what you’re looking for. They call it willful or wanton conduct. Okay. So it’s gotta be pretty high level. What are some examples? Well, obviously, what I just mentioned a minute ago, if you’re driving DUI, either alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication that you weren’t supposed to be driving on, that could rise to the level of punitive damages. That’s a pretty easy category. Others would be things like defamation cases and you injured someone, assault. So if you’re assaulted, that would be a punitive damage case. Those are your main areas. You’re looking for, in essence, a criminal statute that’s been violated. We’re not talking rules of the road violation. So not running a stop sign, running a red light, those sorts of things. It’s got to be those DUIs, the drugs, assaulting someone, those sorts of things. And then there could be multiple people involved that could have punitive damage liability. So you’re talking an employer whose employee was maybe drunk on the job, something like that.

So punitive damages, you got to think really horrible conduct before it’s even a possibility. It’s one reason why you ought to talk to a personal injury lawyer. You need to know whether you have punitive damages involved in your case. It can change the value of your case tremendously. So you need to know if that’s in play. Again, most of the time, it probably will not be, but it’s good to ask. It’s good to have someone look into it, make sure that box is checked, that you do or don’t have it. If you’ve got any questions about punitive damages, if you have a potential case you would like to talk to me about, please reach out to me. I’ll be happy to speak with you. There’s a couple of ways to do that. You can comment to this video below. You can go to my website, spauldinginjurylaw.com, we have a contact form on there, you can fill that out, and we’ll respond to you. Or you can give me a call directly. I’ve got two numbers for you, 770-744-0890 or 470-695-9950. Thanks for watching this video.