How are Punitive Damages Calculated in a Truck Accident in Atlanta?
Car accidents are not something that anyone wishes to experience. When it comes to a truck accident in Atlanta, they are even more devastating. As an Atlanta truck accident lawyer serving Atlanta, GA, we know that collisions involving big rigs are typically far more severe. These accidents often involve more damages, injuries, and deaths than a traditional car accident. This is due to the vehicle’s large size and weight. Moreover, truck accidents in Atlanta are preventable, if driver and safety regulations are followed.
Commercial truck drivers drive for long hours, high mileage, and undergo regular inspections and maintenance. During all of this, these drivers often become fatigued, which is dangerous. The pressure to stick to schedules and deliver loads on time can also result in overloaded vehicles. Improperly loaded vehicles and hours of service violations also create a deadly combination with fatigue. Tragically, many such drivers attempt to combat fatigue with substances like recreational drugs, alcohol, or distractions on the road. When combined, these factors add up to a very dangerous situation on the road, one that can and does result in major damage and fatalities.
Filing Punitive Damages in a Truck Accident in Atlanta, GA Case
Personal injury claims may include punitive damages when it can be shown that the defendant, the at-fault driver in this case, is guilty of negligence or conduct constituting a reckless disregard for safety and human life. Commonly, these cases involve truck drivers who were intoxicated, speeding or driving recklessly, or fatigued.
A very common theme in truck accidents in Atlanta is drivers with hours of service violations. A driver who is falsifying logs in order to finish routes sooner or driving too many hours without stopping to rest is a serious liability issue. Often, the driver will be responsible for the falsified logs. In certain cases, this is done with the knowledge and consent of the trucking company who hired the driver. In this case, both the driver and the trucking company may be found liable for any injuries or fatalities. They may be held liable punitive damages for knowingly placing others at risk on the highway.
Typically, punitive damages will greatly increase the value of a truck accident claim in Atlanta. These damages allow the court to compensate the injured victim for negligence or misconduct on the part of the truck driver. Punitive damages are to help compensate for past and future medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and in the worst cases, wrongful death. Our Atlanta truck accident lawyers often seek and recover the full policy limits on truck accident cases in Atlanta.
Factors Which May Increase Punitive Damages in an Atlanta Truck Accident Case
There are several factors which may increase the amount of punitive damages awarded in an Atlanta Truck accident case. These include:
- If the driver was intoxicated, how far above the legal limit of 0.08 was the driver?
- Is the driver a repeat offender with a history of violations?
- How severe were the injuries?
- Did the injured victim die as a result of the crash?
- How remorseful is the at-fault driver?
- Was the truck driver guilty of a life-threatening moving violation such as reckless driving?
- Did the truck driver leave, or attempt to leave, the accident scene?
Contact an Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyer
If any of the above situations apply to your truck accident injury or wrongful death case, contact an experienced Atlanta truck accident lawyer today. We can help you determine whether punitive damages may be a factor in your lawsuit. In normal cases, negligence such as distracted driving alone is not grounds for punitive damages. Punitive damages could also be rewarded in an instance where a driver was texting while driving. It has been found that texting while driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. Therefore, texting while driving is another form of negligence. Georgia’s new hands-free law also prohibits commercial drivers from reaching for a cell phone or touching a cell phone in any way while driving. However, since this law is still very new, it is difficult to say how likely it is for a violation to lead to punitive damages.
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a truck accident in Atlanta, and you believe the driver was grossly negligent by way of impairment, hours of service violations, or any other form of willfully risking the lives of others on the road, consult with a truck accident attorney at Bethune Law serving Atlanta, GA right away.