Am I entitled punitive damages for a hit and run?

I was involved in a accident with a tractor trailer. His trailer hit my car and he put on his hazard lights as if he was stopping but didn’t. I called 911 and continued to follow the truck driver on the highway. I gave the operator the trailer number and I got the trucking company name. I pulled over and the police came and took a report; it was written up as a hit and run. Later I was able to find the driver and file a claim with his insurance. Police made multiple attempts to contact him but he will not talk to nor will his company. His insurance was found 100% liable for accident in arbitration.

Asked on November 26, 2011 under Accident Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Punitiv damages are very rarely awarded in hit-and-run or other tort cases. Typically, they require either an intentional tort (e.g. he deliberately ran into you) or at the least, a showing of some reckless or depraved indifference to consequences. Even if he did not stop after the accident, that is most likely not enough to get them--usually, you're talking about particularly reprehensible DUI/DWI behavior or worse. You can certainly ask for/seek them, but there's a good chance you will not get them.

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