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What Are Punitive Damages?

Posted on : December 22, 2019

There are multiple types of damages that may be awarded in a personal injury lawsuit, one of which has the potential to increase the value of the case substantially — punitive damages. Here’s what you need to know about punitive damages and how to get help bringing forward a lawsuit after a serious injury. 

Damages: The Basics 


Damages are the financial penalties imposed on a negligent party for the breach of duty of care that resulted in harm done to another person. They are also designed to compensate the injured individual for expenses related to the accident, such as medical bills, lost wages, and in the case of wrongful death, funeral expenses and loss of future income. 

The Difference Between Punitive and Compensatory Damages 


Compensatory damages are awarded as restitution for the direct and indirect costs of the accident. Compensatory damages can also include emotional and physical pain and suffering. Punitive damages, however, are designed to “punish” the negligent party who caused the injury when their carelessness is considered egregious. Often, these damages are high, and depending on the degree of negligence and severity of the resulting injuries, they may tip the scale for a multi-million dollar lawsuit.  

When Punitive Damages Are Awarded 


Punitive damages, also called exemplary damages, aren’t awarded in every personal injury case. This typically only occurs when the negligence that caused or contributed to the accident was so severe that a court decides that an additional penalty is required. The rationale for punitive damages is that they penalize responsible parties for excessively negligent or careless behavior that the party knew was negligent or should have known.  


Medical malpractice cases are often awarded punitive damages, since the duty of care that a physician has and the harm they can potentially do is so great. For example, a never-event is a medical error that should not occur under any circumstances, such as leaving a surgical instrument inside a patient’s body. Georgia courts also often award punitive damages to victims of DUI cases, particularly when the driver is excessively over the legal BAC limit of 0.08%. 

Injured? Contact Chalker Injury Law Today 


If you or a loved one were hurt in an accident caused by someone else’s gross negligence, you deserve compensation for the damages and suffering you’ve incurred. The person whose carelessness caused the accident deserves to be held responsible for the harm they caused. At Chalker Injury Law, we can help. Contact us today for a consultation at (800) 393-8595. 


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