Drunk driving leads to thousands of accidents on the road each year. If you find yourself the victim of one of those accidents, you may not know how to handle the situation. The extra element of the driver being intoxicated adds a level of seriousness to an already serious situation, and it can increase the amount of compensation you seek in the end.
We have asked attorney, Alaina Sullivan, about what you should do. Here is what she had to say:
Drunk Driving Is Illegal
The thing about driving while intoxicated or impaired is it is an illegal activity. That adds a whole other element to your claim; however, if you do choose to pursue a claim against the driver, keep in mind that you will be doing so in a civil court and not criminal.
Do not assume that just because a criminal case is being filed that you will receive compensation through that case. You will need to seek these on your own in a personal injury civil matter.
You obviously have some type of financial loss following your accident, and this loss normally comes in the form of property damage or medical bills. The fact that the driver was intoxicated is not going to increase the amount of money you will be requesting from property damages to your car or the money expended for medical bills.
The intoxication factor could increase the severity of the accident, which would make the property damage worse than it would have been had the driver not been drunk. The same would go for medical damages, but this is assuming that the intoxicated driver was traveling at a higher speed which would lead to more significant damages.
Pain and Suffering Damages
You could attempt to collect more damages in the form of pain and suffering damages. These types of damages are to compensate you for physical and mental damages you are suffering from as a result of the accident.
Pain and suffering includes emotional distress such as depression or anxiety, as well as insomnia. Drunk driving accidents can often be very serious and life-threatening, and because of the “amped-up” factors in the situation you can pursue damages if you find yourself suffering emotionally as a result of the accident. These damages are ones that you might not even consider pursuing if you are involved in your average, run-of-the-mill fender bender.
Above that, you may be able to pursue punitive damages. These damages are also known as compensatory damages. The point of punitive damages is to punish the driver for reckless behavior and essentially make an example of the driver.
Outrageous conduct involves a person acting with either a bad motive or complete, reckless indifference to how his or her conduct will affect others. If that conduct includes the actor knowing that what he or she does could cause serious harm, courts will find that the person’s conduct to be outrageous.
When a person drinks to the point of becoming intoxicated and then gets behind the wheel, that conduct is arguably reckless. The driver knows or should know about the consequences of driving while impaired as well as the fact that the consequences could result in serious injuries to others, even resulting in death.
Despite this knowledge, the driver still actively made a decision to drive while intoxicated. A court will look at these circumstances when determining if the defendant should pay punitive damages as well.
A judge will look at all evidence leading up to the accident including the level of intoxication, the motive for the conduct, as well as the driving history of the driver. If he or she is a habitual drunk driver, the judge might be more likely to award punitive damages as a means of punishing the driver harshly.
Contact an Attorney Today
A licensed personal injury attorney will be able to evaluate your case and determine if you have a claim against the other party’s insurance company. To receive the compensation you deserve for your medical bills, auto body bills, and pain and suffering, you should speak with a personal injury attorney in your area today.