Atlanta Punitive Damages Lawyer
Stokes & Kopitsky, P.A., respected Atlanta punitive damages lawyers, have recovered over $100 million in settlements for clients in Atlanta and other areas of Georgia. For over thirty years, we have successfully handled complex cases in which the defendant’s egregious conduct merited a punitive damage award.
In Georgia, plaintiffs who are injured by the negligent conduct of others may bring a tort claim to recover monetary compensation for their injury. The legal term for the requested award is “damages,” which generally fall into three categories. First, the injured party may recover “special” damages that “actually flow” from a tortious act. Pursuant to the Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) §9-11-9, the plaintiff must first prove the defendant’s negligent conduct proximately caused his or her injuries and plead a “specific” monetary amount. Examples of special damages include medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses that can be calculated with relative certainty. Second, the plaintiff may be entitled to “general” damages that “presumably flow” from tortious conduct. Unlike “specials,” plaintiffs can recover “general” damages without proving any specific amount. OCGA §51-12-2. Pain, suffering, and emotional distress are damages that are difficult to estimate and fall under this category.
Finally, “punitive” damages may be awarded in cases where “aggravating circumstances” merit a need to penalize, punish, or deter a defendant. The purpose of punitive damages is not to compensate the plaintiff, but to severely sanction defendants and deter them from future, egregious behavior. OCGA §51-12-5.1 requires proof by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant exhibited such “bad” behavior that an award of “vindictive” or “exemplary” damages is in order.
Examples of conduct that would merit punitive damages include:
- Willful misconduct
- “Entire want of care” which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences
- Specific intent to cause harm
- Or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Georgia law was amended in 1987 to narrow the circumstances under which punitive damages are authorized. Specifically, punitive damages are limited to a $250,000 maximum except in in product liability cases. Such cases have no limit to the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded because courts want to punish manufacturers who are in the best position to discover, correct, or at least warn consumers of a potential defect that threatens their safety. Another notable exception to the punitive damages “cap” occurs when the plaintiff can prove the defendant acted with the specific intent to cause harm or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. An experienced attorney can help you determine whether your case merits a punitive damage award in addition to the compensation you should recover for your injury.
If you were injured in an accident caused by particularly egregious conduct, you may be entitled to punitive damages. For over thirty years, Stokes & Kopitsky, P.A. has successfully handled tough cases in which the defendant’s actions warranted punitive damages. Whether your accident was caused by a defective product, willful misconduct, or an intoxicated driver, our skilled Atlanta punitive damages attorneys can help you recover for your injuries and, if necessary, punish liable parties for their misconduct. For a free consultation, call 404-892-0011 or contact us online.