The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. Articles Can You Sue for Punitive Damages If a Drunk Driver Hits You?

Can You Sue for Punitive Damages If a Drunk Driver Hits You?

By Christopher Hoffmannn  Jun. 21, 2018 11:57a

In personal injury lawsuits, you may be entitled to collect for both compensatory damages and, in egregious situations, punitive damages. Compensatory damages are damages that fall under the categories of both non-economic and economic damages.

Non-economic damages are those damages that someone suffers due to the experience they have in a car accident.

They include things like pain and suffering and emotional distress. Economic damages are the type of damages that seek to make someone financially whole again. They cover all the losses that someone financially incurs due to an accident. Things that fall under the economic damages classification range from lost earnings from being out of work to medical bills that resulted from the incident.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages differ from compensatory damages. They are not meant to compensate the victim for their injuries; instead, they are intended to punish an offender. Punitive damages are imposed to hold someone accountable if they injure someone knowingly and without regard for the safety of others.

If you are in a car accident and someone is driving while intoxicated, it is possible for you to seek punitive damages.

Punitive damages are a type of damage recovery that is based on the egregious nature of the defendant’s behavior. They are also relative to the damage they caused. Since DUI is an intentional act, meaning that someone chose to drink and drive knowing the dangers that they are posing to themselves and those around them, it is subject to punitive damages.

Can Anyone Else Be Held Accountable for Damages in a DUI Accident?

On top of being able to seek punitive damages in a DUI accident, in the state of Missouri, you might be able to sue an establishment for serving alcohol to the drunk driver due to dram shop laws. It is possible to hold any establishment who over-served the defendant accountable for continuing to serve someone who was blatantly intoxicated.

What Would You Need to Prove Dram Shop Laws Were Broken?

The only way to hold an establishment accountable for your car accident injuries is if you can prove that the defendant was intoxicated to the point that their impairment would have been evident to the person who was selling them alcohol.

You have to prove that it would have been obvious to a restaurant, bar, or even a party host, that the person who was drinking alcohol was physically impaired due to their alcohol consumption, and the server knew it, ignored it, and continued to sell or serve them alcohol.

If a DUI accident is severe enough to cause permanent disability or even loss of life, it is possible to sue the DUI driver and seek compensatory and punitive damages.

In the case of injury due to a drunk driver, the court systems have sympathy for the victims. Juries might send a message to establishments who look the other way and continue to serve alcohol to impaired individuals.

They might also want to reward the compensation to punish the offender, deter future offenders, and to support you with what you deserve.

The best way to understand if your case can seek punitive damages is to speak a St. Louis car accident attorney get involved and guide you as to what you are entitled to receive.

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