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How to Recover Damages From Injuries Caused by a Drunk Driver
Sadly, drunk driving accidents occur all too often in our country. Too many people have a lapse in judgment, get behind the wheel of their car when they are impaired, and tragedy strikes.
If you’ve been injured in a drunk driving accident, you may be entitled to significant compensation. A case brought against a drunk driver opens up several unique opportunities for damages. Here’s what you need to know.
Establishing Negligence Against the Drunk Driver
As you may know, in a “normal” car accident, where alcohol is not involved, establishing who’s at fault can be a tricky task. The injured plaintiff has to prove that their injuries occurred as a direct result of the defendant’s negligence. Facts can be misconstrued, testimonies bent, and the entire incident can become cloudy.
However, when it comes to a drunk driving accident, the plaintiff simply must establish that the defendant was intoxicated at the time of the accident, and that this intoxication led to the plaintiff’s injuries. According to a principle known as “negligence per se,” negligence can be assumed in these cases.
Unlike other motor vehicle accident cases, the plaintiff doesn’t have to prove that the defendant’s actions reached a level of negligence because drunk driving is considered an act that is fundamentally wrong. Thus, in drunk driving cases, the plaintiff has a much simpler job in winning their case and getting the compensation necessary for their injuries.
Punitive Damages: Getting the Compensation You Deserve
Punitive damages vary depending on the state you live in, but the majority of their procedures are standard. Punitive damages are a way for courts to discourage conduct similar to the defendant’s by way of awarding bonus damages to the plaintiff. Once the compensatory damages are established, punitive damages are tacked on as a multiplier. For example, if you’re rewarded compensatory damages of $50,000, a court could award you punitive damages totaling up to 4 times that amount or $200,000, bringing your total damages awarded to $250,000.
Typically, punitive damages will be up to the court to award, but because they can be so valuable, they’re worth pursuing. When it comes to drunk drivers, punitive damages are more likely to be awarded if the driver was severely intoxicated or deliberately drove drunk and showed a willful disregard for others’ safety—rather than if the driver was just barely over the legal limit when the accident occurred.
Your Case Matters
There are a plethora of compensatory damages available to victims of drunk driver accidents, but too many victims are unaware of these damages or fail to win them in a court of law. If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a drunk driver, contact Wettermark Keith today. Our experienced team of personal injury attorneys will tirelessly fight to get you the money you are owed. Call us today!