DWI Personal Injury Lawyer FAQ: How do punitive damages relate to a driving while intoxicated personal injury case?

If you were injured in an accident that involved another driver who was intoxicated at the time of the crash, it may be possible to recover punitive damages. 

Punitive damages may be allowed in a case when the negligent, or liable, party does something that is reckless, malicious, violent, or intentional, and does not have any regard for the consequences of their actions. These damages are meant to punish this person and are not available in all personal injury cases. 

In order to find out if punitive damages may be pursued, it is recommended to speak to a DWI personal injury lawyer. In the meantime, the following is a brief guide about punitive damages. 

Punitive Damages Are Meant to Punish the Liable Party

Punitive damages are used to make an example out of the driver who was driving while intoxicated. They may also be awarded in other cases; for example, when a corporation was aware of a danger, but failed to address and correct it. These damages also should act as a deterrent from others engaging in similar behaviors; thereby, making society a safer place. 

Punitive Damages Can Help to Compensate the Victim’s Monetary, Physical, and Emotional Losses

In general, a person who was intoxicated at the time of their accident will be charged with a crime. They may face jail or prison time in addition to a criminal record, fines, probation, and so forth. These punishments do not compensate for any of the victim’s losses, but punitive damages do. 

The Larger Settlements in the Media Often Involve Punitive Damages

If you’ve ever seen a large personal injury case settlement highlighted in the media, for example, one that is 6,7,8, or 9 figures, there is a very good chance that a large amount of that settlement is from punitive damages. 

How Punitive Damages are Awarded

Punitive damages are generally only allowed when a case goes to trial, or afterward. Usually, once the primary case is heard by a jury, and they submit a guilty verdict, a mini-trial will be ordered by the judge. During this mini-trial, the jury will make a decision on whether or not punitive damages should be awarded on top of the compensatory damages. In order for a jury to decide this, a judge will ask them to determine whether there is clear and convincing evidence that the defendant was grossly negligent or engaged in intentional misconduct. In other words, the defendant knew they were doing something wrong, but continued to do so regardless of what the consequences might be, or the defendant was so reckless that they disregarded the life and safety of others. 

Have You Been Injured in a DWI Accident?

If you or a loved one was injured, or died, in an accident that involved another party who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you have the right to explore your legal options, and should do so as soon as possible. 

For a complimentary case review by a drunk driving lawyer in Bloomington, IL, please call a law firm today.

Thanks to Pioletti, Pioletti & Nichols for their insight into personal injury claims and punitive damages for a DUI accident.

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