A judge or jury can award punitive damages against a drunk driver to punish them for their actions. These damages are in addition to actual damages a victim may receive for medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, and more. It is important to note, Louisiana generally does not allow for punitive damages, but there are some exceptions.
A law firm familiar with the local laws pertaining to drunk driving accident cases can help you understand the concept of punitive damages and how they may apply to your unique case.
Punitive Damages Are Awarded to Punish Wrongdoing
There are distinct categories of damages you can recover after a drunk driving accident leaves you with injuries. First, you may seek compensatory damages for your tangible costs, like medical bills and your subjective losses, including pain and suffering.
Additionally, you may seek a specific type of compensation, known as punitive damages, which is considered a form of punishment. When an accident results from particularly egregious behavior, the court may order the defendant to pay punitive damages. Sometimes, these damages are also awarded to prevent similar wrongdoing by others in the future.
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How Much Can I Receive for Punitive Damages After a Drunk Driving Accident?
The specific amount of compensation you may receive for your injuries in a drunk driving case will depend on the facts and other details of your crash. Generally, punitive damages awards are significant because they are intended to serve more as a punishment to the defendant than as compensation.
An award for punitive damages in your drunk driving accident case may greatly increase the overall case value and settlement amount. How much you receive will directly relate to the particular facts of your accident.
What do I Need to Prove to Get Punitive Damages from a Drunk Driver?
In most car accidents, to win compensatory damages, you must show that the driver was not as careful as they should have been, leading to your injuries. While you will still need to prove negligence in a drunk driving accident, you may also need to provide additional evidence if you plan to request punitive damages.
Courts generally require clear and convincing evidence that your injuries after a drunk driving accident were caused by behavior that was malicious, grossly negligent, or unreasonably dangerous. Therefore, you will need to build strong evidence to show that the driver acted with disregard for your safety by driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Our car accident lawyers can help you determine what specific evidence you will need to support your request for punitive damages after a drunk driving accident.
Certain Facts About the Accident May Affect If You Receive Punitive Damages
While it can be challenging to prove the defendant in your case intentionally meant to cause your injuries, other circumstances may exist in your case that can help you establish your claim for punitive damages. Circumstances that may support your claim for punitive damages include:
- A blood alcohol concentration that is well over the legal limit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- The defendant had a history of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- The defendant was aware that driving in their impaired state was likely to cause harm to others
- The driver had other, safe transportation options
- The severity of your injuries
- Whether the award for compensatory damages is sufficient
A personal injury attorney who handles drunk driving cases can help you investigate all aspects surrounding your crash and the other driver to determine if evidence exists to support a claim for punitive damages.
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How Drunk Driving, Reckless Driving, and Punitive Damages May Coincide
For punitive damages to be awarded, the behavior leading to the accident must be considered outrageous or especially harmful. Drunk driving is also often considered to be reckless driving or driving with willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others on the road.
Most drivers know that drunk driving is a dangerous behavior that is likely to put others at risk for harm. So, when a person who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol makes the decision to operate their vehicle, they understand that they may be putting others in danger. The courts consider this to be especially harmful behavior and may award punitive damages as a result.
Morris Bart, LLC Can Help If You Are Hurt After an Accident with a Drunk Driver
If a drunk driver has hurt you, you may be eligible to request additional compensation for punitive damages. Our injury lawyers can help you determine what steps you need to take and what evidence you need to build to receive punitive damages in your drunk driving case.
Call us at (800) 537-8185 for more information about how our legal team may be able to help with your drunk driving accident case.
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