3 things to know about punitive damages in Georgia

On Behalf of | May 20, 2024 | Uncategorized |

In cases where people experience significant financial losses caused by the conduct or negligence of another party, they may have the option of taking legal action. Georgia state law permits personal injury lawsuits filed by those harmed due to someone else’s misconduct. People can also file wrongful death lawsuits if a loved one dies due to the bad behavior of another party.

Obviously, one of the main purposes of such lawsuits is to reduce the economic harm generated by the misconduct of others. Such lawsuits can also serve as a deterrent against misconduct by creating penalties for the parties at fault for the incident. To that end, punitive damages are sometimes a key component of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits in Georgia.

They are only available in certain cases

Punitive damages are a form of punishment for misconduct or negligence. They do not relate to the actual losses incurred by those affected but instead serve as a punishment for fraud, malice or gross negligence. Plaintiffs seeking punitive damages need compelling evidence establishing that the case meets that standard.

The majority of damages go to the state

Unlike the economic damages recovered in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, the punitive damages awarded in a lawsuit do not belong entirely to the plaintiff. Instead, Georgia state law allows the plaintiffs to retain 25% of the punitive damages. The state receives the other 75% of the punitive damages awarded in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

There are limits to punitive damages

Especially in wrongful death cases, the need for justice and closure can inspire people to push for the highest amount of compensation possible, especially if they want to punish the party at fault for the incident. Georgia has a history of limiting punitive damages during lawsuits. Typically, an award of punitive damages in Georgia does not exceed $250,000.

In cases where egregious negligence or misconduct led to economic harm, those taking legal action may want to pursue punitive damages to bolster a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Understanding the rules that govern punitive damages can benefit those preparing for litigation, as this understanding can lead to more informed decision-making.