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Can Your Columbia Car Accident Lawyer Demand Punitive Damages in Your Drunk Driving Case?

January 24, 2021

One question a lot of drunk driving accident victims ask is what kind of damages their lawyer can get them. Punitive damages are among those that may qualify. However, before your Columbia car accident lawyer starts talking about damages, they need to be able to prove fault. Of course, if the defendant was convicted of DUI after your car wreck, it’ll help. This is evidence that they were at fault. However, even if they were drunk, that doesn’t necessarily mean they caused the accident. They could have been stopped at a red light at the time of the crash. Or they may have been at a red light when you hit them from behind. This means that your lawyer will still need to prove negligence. In order to do that, they need to show the following four (4) things:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care
  • They breached this duty
  • You were hurt
  • Your injuries were caused by their breach

If you can prove these things, you’ll have a good chance of winning your case.

What Kind of Damages Can Your Attorney Demand?

In most motor vehicle accidents, you can demand certain damages. Your Columbia car accident lawyer will ask for any or all of the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Future medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Lost future earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damages

These damages are intended to make you whole. They aren’t meant to punish the other driver. When you’re looking to do that, you need to ask for something called punitive damages. These are damages that are meant to punish the defendant. They are rarely awarded in car accident cases. However, the exception to that rule is when you’re involved in a drunk driving accident.

You May Be Entitled to Punitive Damages

In South Carolina, the judge only awards punitive damages in certain circumstances. One of these is when the defendant is grossly negligent. When someone decides to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, they are being grossly negligent. They are behaving recklessly and have no regard for the safety of others. The judge may decide they need to send a message to the defendant. This is when they award the plaintiff punitive damages.

Can Your Columbia Car Accident Lawyer Convince the Judge to Award Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant. The judge wants to send two messages. First, they want the defendant to know they can’t behave the way they did. They also want to send a message to the public. In cases like drunk driving accidents, the judge usually has no problem sending this message. They want all drivers to know that drunk driving will not be tolerated. If someone chooses to get behind the wheel while under the influence, they’ll have to face the consequences. These consequences could include several thousands of dollars in punitive damages. Your Columbia car accident lawyer needs to convince the judge that the defendant acted recklessly, intentionally, or with gross negligence to make this happen.

Talk to an Experienced Columbia Car Accident Lawyer Today

If you or your family member are hurt in a drunk driving accident, you’re going to feel all sorts of things. The first thing you’ll feel is anger. You’re going to want the other driver to pay. So will your Columbia car accident lawyer. Nobody should get behind the wheel after drinking or doing drugs. There’s no excuse for it. If they choose to put their own life at risk, that’s their choice. They don’t have the right to put the lives of you and your loved ones at risk.

You’re also going to be scared. These accidents tend to leave their victims with serious injuries. You may not know if you’ll ever be able to work again. You may need multiple surgeries or long-term physical therapy. You’re wondering how you’re going to afford this treatment. You may also worry that you won’t be able to pay your bills if you’re out of work. This is where your seasoned Columbia car accident lawyer enters the picture.

Your attorney is going to fight to get you the compensation you deserve. The only way to make that happen is to call and schedule your free, initial consultation as soon as possible after your crash. You can sit down with someone who has your best interests at heart. They’ll also work tirelessly to get you as much money as possible. The initial consultation is absolutely free, and you don’t have to pay a dime until your case is resolved.