Punitive damages and trucking companies

Can You Sue a Trucking Company for Punitive Damages in Georgia?

Commercial truck accidents are known for causing devastating amounts of damage. In most situations, these accidents are just that—tragic accidents that aren’t the result of wanton negligence. But when someone’s gross negligence is the cause of an accident, additional compensation may be warranted.

If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you likely have tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses piling up. It’s crucial to connect with an Atlanta truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to protect your best interests. Call Bailey Javins & Carter at 678-981-5370 to set up a consultation with our team.

Liability for Punitive Damages

There are multiple ways that trucking companies can be found liable for truck accidents. To start, they may have liability because of their own actions. Employers are expected to exert a reasonable amount of care and caution when hiring, supervising, and disciplining drivers. When they fall short of this standard, they are liable for accidents that follow. Employer mistakes may include not thoroughly vetting drivers, allowing or even encouraging unsafe practices, and failing to require routine maintenance and inspections on trucks.

Employers may also be vicariously liable. When an employee causes an accident through their own negligence, their employer is responsible for the damage they cause. If a driver’s gross negligence leads to an accident, the employer could be forced to pay punitive damages.

What is Required for Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are completely separate from other types of compensation awarded in Georgia personal injury claims. Other types of damages are meant to compensate the victim of an accident for their losses. However, punitive damages are intended to punish the liable party. They are still paid to the victim, but the fact that the money helps the victim is secondary to the fact that it punishes the person responsible. Not only are punitive damages a form of punishment, they are also supposed to discourage the wrongdoer or anyone else from engaging in similar behavior in the future.

Because punitive damages go above and beyond the compensation that most personal injury claims involve, the standards are very, very high. Georgia requires that the victim have evidence of gross negligence or willful misconduct. The bar is higher than it is for standard personal injury compensation. Your attorney will look for evidence showing that the employer showed a conscious disregard for others’ safety in full knowledge of the risks.

There are multiple ways a company could engage in wanton negligence, including:

  • Companies knowing that a driver is falsifying their driver logs and not taking action to ensure that they remain compliant with FMCSA regulations.
  • Compensating drivers for driving above the speed limit and completing hauls in an unreasonably short amount of time.
  • Failure to conduct proper maintenance or inspections to a degree likely to cause accidents.
  • Failure to check drivers’ logs for accuracy to a degree that drivers are able to falsify entire hauls and go far above their allotted hours of service.
  • Indifference to FMCSA regulations compliance.
  • Encouraging drivers to violate hours of service regulations in order to finish hauls on time.
  • Not tracking drivers’ hours and simply allowing drivers to take the hours that they feel comfortable driving.

How Your Attorney Can Help

If you think your case may be severe enough to warrant punitive damages, it is even more important to talk to a personal injury attorney about your case. Proving the need for punitive damages is a challenge, and you’ll want to consult an attorney with extensive experience in Georgia truck accident claims. They’ll bring an in-depth understanding of FMCSA regulations and employers’ obligations to the table, providing your case with the backbone it needs. Your lawyer will also provide guidance as to the true value of your claim and be honest with you if your case is unlikely to result in punitive damages.

Start Your Truck Accident Claim with Bailey Javins & Carter

When you’re involved in a truck accident, the team at Bailey Javins & Carter is here to help. We’re committed to fighting for the compensation you deserve. Call us at 678-981-5370 or reach out online to set up a consultation right away.