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Limitation of Punitive Damages in Georgia


December 06, 2017

A Personal Injury Attorney in Georgia Explain Limitation of Punitive Damages in Georgia

Personal injury plaintiffs infrequently prevail on punitive damage awards. In Georgia, punitive damages may be awarded by a jury to deter future bad conduct. But, the net effect of tort reform is to place limitations on the cases in which a jury can award punitive damages and scale back a jury's ability to punish egregious or repeat offenders.

The personal injury attorneys with Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law have a thorough understanding of Georgia law regarding punitive damages and when a jury may award them. Montlick & Associates accident attorneys fight vigorously for their clients to obtain punitive damages in the appropriate cases. If you or a loved one suffered an injury because of someone else's reckless conduct, contact Montlick & Associates as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights as well as what steps can be taken to protect those rights. 

Georgia Code §51-12-1 through 14

In Georgia, the question of whether punitive damages may be assessed is controlled by statute. The damages statute can be found in Georgia Code §51-12-1 through 14. Georgia's statutory scheme is a comprehensive body of law that determines the nature of damages that an injured person can recover and the limitations on those damages. Additionally, Georgia's Court of Appeals and Supreme Court rule on cases in which the parties question how these laws apply if it is alleged that error occurred at the trial level. However, the combination of statutes and decisions from Georgia's appellate courts create a large body of law.

Punitive Damages Under Georgia Law

A jury may award punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages or vindictive damages, for a variety of reasons, such as willful, reckless and wanton conduct. Most commonly, such damages are awarded in personal injury cases when the defendant caused an accident in part because of being intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol.  However, a jury cannot award them in every case. The award of punitive damages, as the name implies, acts as a punishment for those whom the jury found committed a terrible act that injured another. The other aim of allowing a jury to impose punitive damages is deterrence of future misconduct.  

As referenced above, obtaining an award for punitive damages is not easy because Georgia, through its statutes and decisions from its appellate courts, places strict limitations on punitive damages. The law authorizing a jury the ability to impose exemplary damages contains several limitations. For example, the law requires a plaintiff to ask for punitive damages specifically. Failing to make that request in the complaint filed by the plaintiff can prevent the plaintiff from seeking those damages later.

Burden of Proof Under Georgia Personal Injury Law

Another limitation, or barrier, to receiving punitive damages is the burden of proof the plaintiff must satisfy. The burden of proof in a civil case is a "fair preponderance of the credible evidence." It basically means that the plaintiff must prove the defendant more likely than not committed the act which caused the plaintiff's injuries. This is much lower than the more familiar criminal standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt." However, to acquire punitive damages, the plaintiff must prove by "clear and convincing evidence" that the defendant committed the act willfully, maliciously, fraudulently, wantonly, or was indifferent to the consequences a person could suffer as a result of the conduct. This burden is easier to satisfy than "beyond a reasonable doubt," but harder than the "preponderance" standard.  Satisfying this heavy burden requires a substantial amount of evidence.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 36 Years Of Legal Experience To Work For Your Case!

If you have been injured in any type of accident caused by someone else's negligence, contact Montlick & Associates today for your free consultation with an experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Georgia. Montlick & Associates has been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast for over 36 years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.

Your Time to File a Claim is Limited By Georgia Law

There are time limitations for bringing a claim. Be sure to read our "Georgia Statute of Limitations" page for more information about important deadlines that effect your ability to file an injury claim. We also provide a "A Guide to Personal Injury Law in Georgia" that will help you better understand the laws the affect your case.

No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Source: http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/gacode/default.asp and cited within

Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law
17 Executive Park Dr NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
Telephone: 1 (800) LAW-NEED
Telephone: 1 (404) 529-6333    

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.