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Are punitive damages awarded in Georgia wrongful death claims?

Countless people pass away due to preventable accidents and injuries each year in Georgia and other states. Many of these fatalities occur because of unintentional negligence. This means that even though the person who caused the death behaved negligently, he or she did not intend to harm another person.

Other times, death occurs because the responsible party engaged in intentionally reckless or malicious conduct. Talking with an attorney can help surviving family members determine if they have grounds to impose punitive damages against the party responsible for their loved one's death.

Using car accidents as an example, below are some situations leading to wrongful death in which a court may choose to award punitive damages:

  • Drunk driving that causes a car accident in which a victim dies
  • Reckless road rage behavior that causes a death
  • Fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run instead of staying to call for help or render aid to victims
  • Drag racing that leads to the death of a pedestrian or another driver

For a court to award punitive damages in a wrongful death case, it must be shown that the defendant engaged in willful misconduct, malice and disregard for the lives of others. These stipulations exist so that everyone in a wrongful death suit receives fair treatment, which is an important part of the American justice system.

Those who have lost a loved one to wrongful death should understand that punitive damages exist as a punishment for offenders, not as a way for victims to increase their compensation. When bringing a negligent and dangerous individual to justice is your primary goal, the legal system in Georgia may very well be on your side.

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