Did a Truck Accident Result in Severe Injuries?
Punitive Damages in Truck Accident Claims May Be Available
While compensatory damages are common in truck accident claims, punitive damages could also be available. The standard of proof for punitive damages must be “clear and convincing evidence”. For truck accident claims, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) contains information about the use of corporate conduct when seeking punitive damages. For example, The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) states that a motor carrier cannot instruct or encourage its employees to break FMCSR rules. If a truck driver violates these rules, then the courts could send a message by awarding the plaintiff punitive damages. Our attorneys will help you advocate for others by seeking punitive damages in your truck accident claim.
At the McArthur Law Firm, our attorneys have decades of experience handling complex personal injury cases. Our clients have received millions of dollars in awarded compensation for truck accident claims and have experience securing punitive damages. Our firm’s founder, Kathy McArthur, has represented the greater Macon community for over 30 years. She has witnessed the legal system change throughout her career and will use that experience to benefit your truck accident claim. Our attorneys understand every aspect of personal injury law and will work hard to secure punitive damages if it applies to your case.
Legal Decisions Supporting Punitive Damages in Truck Accident Claims
Although legal experts debate the usefulness of punitive damages, there is precedent for awarding punitive damages in truck accident claims. The body of law awarding truck accident victims punitive damages includes:
- Came v. Micou, 2005: The trucking company made several decisions that were considered to be a “reckless indifference to the rights of others”. For example, the trucking company failed to monitor the number of hours that the truck driver was working. He was sent back out on the road after exceeding his hour of service limitations.
- Trotter v. B & W Cartage Co., Inc., 2006: There were several FMSCR rules violated by this trucking company. They violated hours of service rules, falsified driver logs and failed to monitor employee work times. The company’s management was sending the message that employees could violate federal regulations without consequence.
- Garrett v. Albright, 2008: The driver involved in the accident had suffered from a heart attack and a stroke. He was taking unreported medications when driving and frequently lied when filling out his driver log. Lawyers discovered that the company offered minimal employee training and was even paying employees who failed to turn in log books. The plaintiff received punitive damages.
- Esteras v. TRW, Inc., 2006: The company argued that they had delegated the maintenance which caused the accident. However, opposing attorneys were able to produce evidence proving that the company failed to properly inspect and maintain their trucks.
Are There Specific Laws Governing Punitive Damage Claims in Georgia?
While punitive damages may or may not apply to your injury claim, you should understand the laws that govern your state. In Georgia, there is a cap on punitive damages — a jury cannot award you more than $250,000. Also, you should know that punitive damages may not be available if your case is based solely on non-economic damages. This includes conditions like mental and psychological trauma. While truck accidents are common experiences, there are other occasions where you cannot pursue punitive damages.
For example, if your truck accident case is against the city, county or state, then you cannot file for punitive damages. However, individual government employees can be held liable for punitive damages. However, the jury must decide that the government employee is responsible for the accident in his or her own individual capacity. Our attorneys know the limitations surrounding punitive damages and will let you know if they affect your injury claim.
Along with damage caps, it is important to understand that the evidentiary standard for punitive damages is strict. The typical standard for civil cases is “preponderance of the evidence”. If the evidence is more than 50 percent against the defendant, then he or she can be held liable. For punitive damages, the standard is “clear and convincing evidence”. In other words, the jury must believe that each element of the plaintiff’s claim is true. This standard is much higher than the one a jury uses to find someone liable for general damages. However, it is lower than the standard used for criminal cases (beyond a reasonable doubt).
Need Help with Punitive Damages in Truck Accident Claims? Contact Us Now
In truck accident cases, there will occasionally be aggravating circumstances that result in severe personal injuries. When these circumstances emerge, the jury must decide if they want to penalize, punish or deter the defendant with punitive damages. Punitive damages in truck accident claims are not always available, but our attorneys will help you determine what legal actions to take that best benefit you.
If you were involved in a truck accident and want to pursue punitive damages, then contact the McArthur Law Firm today at 1-888-WE-FIGHT and schedule a consultation. You can also contact us online using our free claim review form. We will review the facts of your case and answer all of your questions.