What Are Punitive Damages in a DUI Accident?

Traffic accidents involving impaired drivers are some of the most tragic and dangerous accidents on our roads. In fact, when a drunk driver is involved, the accident is that much more likely to be deadly. The most devastating part is that drunk driving crashes are preventable.

Personal injury law allows for a victim of another motorist’s negligence to be compensated for the economic (medical bills, lost wages) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering, physical impairment) which are known as compensatory damages. However, if the at fault driver was impaired or driving recklessly, the victim may be entitled to recover punitive damages, which are intended to punish the offending motorist. If an impaired or reckless driver leaves you injured, you need to seek an experienced Georgia car accident attorney to make sure you receive the full measure of compensation you deserve including punitive damages.

Georgia Allows Accident Victims to Sue Impaired Drivers for Punitive Damages

If impairment from alcohol or drugs contributed to the crash that leaves you injured, you have a viable claim for punitive damages. The purpose of punitive damages is twofold, including:

  • To penalize the at-fault driver for his or her egregious negligence
  • To deter the at-fault driver and/or other motorists who might be tempted to follow in the at-fault driver’s footsteps

The intent of punitive damages is intended to both punish reckless conduct and forestall further reckless conduct. Punitive damages are available for personal injury cases and in wrongful death claims that were brought by an estate’s administrator for the victim’s pre-death pain and suffering.

Proving Reckless Conduct

To successfully recover on punitive damages, you must have clear and convincing evidence that supports your claim that the at-fault party’s misconduct was willful or wanton or that it amounted to conscious indifference to dangerous consequences.

In Georgia, Driving Drunk Is Considered Willful and Wanton Conduct

Typically, traffic accidents are caused by garden-variety negligence that includes no element of intent, meaning the driver caused the other motorist’s injuries but did not intend to do so. As a result, punitive damages play no role in the vast majority of traffic accidents. Even gross negligence alone does not rise to the level of eligibility for punitive damages. The State of Georgia, however, finds that driving drunk does meet the standard of egregiousness necessary to support a claim seeking punitive damages. An important caveat is that the jury involved in your case will make the decision regarding punitive damages, and it has vast discretion in the matter.

Bring It Up with a Dedicated Forsyth County Car Accident Attorney

If a drunk driver leaves you injured in a traffic accident, the dedicated Cumming drunk driving accident attorneys at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland are committed to skillfully advocating for the full range of damages to which you are entitled, including punitive damages. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at 770-887-1209 today.