People who get behind the wheel after drinking are far more likely to cause accidents than sober drivers. Because their reaction times are slowed and their judgment is impaired, drunk driving accidents are often more serious and cause more severe injuries than other car accidents.
Drunk driving victims constitute a special area of auto accident law. In addition to normal damages, DUI victims may be entitled to additional recovery due to the wrongful act of the other driver given the criminal nature of the offense. It is important to have an experienced attorney who can coordinate criminal restitution when advantageous alongside your civil accident claim. Restitution is a remedy available in the criminal case where the judge can impose this condition on the DUI offender at sentencing. You do not have to wait for the criminal trial to conclude before you pursue civil legal action. The procedures and verdicts in your civil case will be separate from the criminal case.
As in regular auto accident cases, an injured individual is entitled to recover lost wages, medical bills, future medical costs, property damage losses, and damages for pain, suffering and lost capacity for the enjoyment of life due to permanent injuries. If the injured individual is married, their spouse may also recover for the loss of support and consortium. In the unfortunate event that an individual dies due to another’s negligence, the law provides for recovery by that individual’s surviving spouse and children, or other dependents. For DUI cases, there are also “punitive” damages that go beyond these damages.
Punitive damages are those that punish a repeat or flagrant wrongdoer. The most well-known example is the McDonalds coffee case. The total amount awarded in that case was very high, many feel it was “too much” considering the extent of the injury the victim sustained. The reason it was so high was because it included punitive damages—meaning that it was not to compensate the victim, but to punish McDonalds. What many people don’t know about that case is that there was a long list of prior repeated violations that led to that punishment. McDonalds deliberately chose profits over safety despite being cited hundreds of time by OSHA. In the same way, someone who has been cited for drunk driving before, may be viewed as a “repeat offender” and as such, if you are injured by one, may be entitled to punitive damages.
It is not just the drunk driver who may be at fault for your injury either. Having a skilled lawyer to help identify responsible parties is vital to secure a proper award. Other responsible parties can include:
If you or a loved one was injured by a drunk driver, please contact our office to schedule a free consultation.
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