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Can You Demand Punitive Damages if You’re Hurt in a DUI Accident?

June 24, 2021

It’s never been okay to drink and drive. However, if you get hurt in a DUI accident, can you call for punitive damages? Columbia accident lawyers still see drunk driving all the time. When someone decides to get behind the wheel after drinking or taking drugs, they’re taking their life in their hands. Unfortunately, they’re also putting your life at risk. If they do crash into your vehicle, you are going to sustain serious injuries. If your family is in the car at the time of the crash, they’ll get hurt too. If that’s the case, then the defendant deserves to pay.

What you should do immediately after the crash is call the cops. You’ll want to have an officer there to take a breathalyzer and document that the defendant was DUI. If they’re arrested and taken to jail, they’re likely going to be charged with DUI. This is something your lawyer can use to prove your case. It’ll be hard for the insurance company to deny liability when their client was convicted of DUI.

Your Columbia Accident Lawyer Needs to Prove the Defendant Was Drunk Driving

The first thing your Columbia accident lawyer needs to do is prove that the other driver was at fault. They’ll do this by showing negligence. When someone is negligent, it means they didn’t behave the way a reasonable person would have given the circumstances. To demonstrate negligence, your attorney will prove the following four (4) things:

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

With a DUI case, this shouldn’t be hard to prove. This is especially true if the defendant was convicted of DUI.

You Could Certainly Demand Compensatory Damages

If you’re hurt in a drunk driving case, there are two types of damages your Columbia accident lawyer will demand. The first type is compensatory damages. This includes reimbursement for any out-of-pocket expenses. This would be things like medical bills, lost wages, etc. These damages are not that difficult to prove.

Your attorney will submit copies of your bills and timesheets to justify your compensatory damages. The same is true for pain and suffering. Drunk driving accidents often leave their victims with serious injuries. If you did sustain painful injuries, your Columbia accident lawyer will demand pain and suffering as well. The second type of damages is punitive damages.

You Can Demand Punitive Damages in a DUI Accident Case

Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for their behavior. Sometimes, the court doesn’t even award punitive damages to be paid to the plaintiff. Sometimes, the defendant must pay them to the court or a certain fund. In order to demand punitive damages, you typically must show that the other party acted recklessly, willfully, or without any regard for human life.

With a drunk driving accident, you’ll have met all three (3) of these criteria. The judge is more likely to assess punitive damages in a DUI case than any other type of motor vehicle accident. Each case is unique, so you’ll have to wait to see how your case develops.

Call and Set Up Your Free Consultation with an Experienced Columbia Accident Lawyer

If you or your family are injured in a drunk driving accident, you probably suffered serious injuries. You’ll need to focus on your recovery. At the same time, somebody needs to move forward with legal action against the responsible party. Your Columbia accident lawyer can do that for you. While you get the treatment you need to get better, they’ll handle the legal side of things.

Experienced Columbia accident lawyers have years of experience dealing with insurance companies. They aren’t intimidated by the big corporations and will fight to get you the money you deserve. Ideally, they’ll negotiate a settlement, so you don’t have to go to trial.

However, if they refuse to play fair, your Columbia accident lawyer has no problem filing suit against them. If the defendant was drunk at the time of the crash, it’ll be hard for them to avoid liability. If the insurance company wants to take the risk of putting a drunk driver on the stand, that’s their prerogative.

For now, all you need to do is contact our office to schedule your free, initial consultation. Sit down with an experienced attorney who can answer any questions you have. They can even give you an idea of what your case is worth.