The Nelson Law Group

Navigating the Complexities of Punitive Damages in Drunk Driving Cases in Georgia

By Pierce Blitch

The Severity of Drunk Driving and Its Legal Repercussions

Drunk driving accidents in Georgia are more than tragic events – they’re a serious breach of legal responsibility. As a State that takes these violations seriously, Georgia law empowers juries to impose punitive damages on those found guilty. These damages go beyond compensation; they are a stern rebuke to the offender and a clear message against such reckless behavior.

The Right to Compensation: Understanding Compensatory and Punitive Damages

Victims of negligent driving, particularly in drunk driving cases, are entitled to compensatory damages. This includes tangible losses like property damage, lost income, and medical bills, as well as intangible losses like pain and suffering. But crucially, in cases of gross negligence, such as drunk driving, punitive damages come into play.

Punitive Damages: A Legal Tool for Punishment and Deterrence

Punitive damages are not just about the victim’s loss but serve as a legal “fine” against the offender for their reckless actions. This includes behavior that shows a blatant disregard for others’ safety, characterized as willful, wanton, or gross negligence.

Legal Nuances: Understanding Georgia’s Stance on Punitive Damages

Georgia’s approach to punitive damages, especially in drunk driving cases, has evolved with personal injury law reforms. Notably, there’s no cap on punitive damages if the driver was under the influence, as per O.C.G.A. section 51-12-5.1(f). Yet, the plaintiff must convincingly prove the need for such damages in a two-phase trial.

The Role of Insurance in Punitive Damages

Interestingly, in Georgia, punitive damages can be covered by the defendant’s auto insurance, as evidenced in cases like Greenwood Cemetery vs. Travelers Indemnity Co., 283 Ga. 313 (1977) and Federal Ins. Co. vs. National Distributing Co., Inc., 203 Ga. App. 763 (1992).

Protect Your Rights in Drunk Driving Incidents

If you’re a victim of a drunk driving accident, understanding your legal rights is crucial. The path to fair compensation is complex, and knowing the full extent of your entitlements is key. Don’t settle without full knowledge of your rights in these distressing circumstances.


We fight for you, and we don’t back down. Every personal injury case holds potentially life-altering consequences. We don’t hold back on providing our clients the best possible personal injury representation available. If you, a family member, or a close friend has been injured, contact The Nelson Law Group today at 706-434-8770 or visit us at 7004 Evans Town Center Blvd., Third Floor, Evans, Georgia 30809 to discuss your unique case and our creative strategies with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.

DISCLAIMER: The content on this site is offered solely for informational purposes and might not represent the current law in your jurisdiction. None of the details provided here should be interpreted as legal advice from The Nelson Law Group or from the individual writer. Additionally, it is not meant to replace professional legal advice. Readers should not base their actions or decisions to abstain from actions solely on the information found in or available through this site. Instead, they should seek tailored legal or other expert counsel regarding their specific situation from an attorney or other professional authorized to practice in the reader’s state, nation, or other relevant licensing are

Category: Punitive Damages