Understanding Punitive Damages and Drunk Driving Injury Claims

Trusted Content

Legally reviewed by:

Erik Abrahamson, J.D. November 07, 2013

drunk driving punitive damagesDrunk driving accidents can be tragic events that can forever change the life of an innocent family.

Often in drunk driving cases, there are separate punishments on the criminal and the civil side of the case. A personal injury lawyer can explain how punitive damages and drunk driving work hand in hand.

Criminal Information

As the public’s disdain for drunk driving continues to grow, the penalties for drunk driving continue to increase.

For example, one 24-year-old woman received a sentence of 38 years in jail after she was driving drunk and killed another person. While the woman may not have intended the injury and at some point may have lost the ability to reason, she is receiving a serious punishment for her lapse in judgment to get behind the wheel after drinking.

Civil Information

When a person gets behind the wheel in an intoxicated state, he or she may be held liable if the conduct results in someone sustaining an injury. Drunk driving cases may involve two different sets of damages.

Actual Damages

These are the damages that the plaintiff’s attorney can prove to a reasonable certainty, such as medical expenses and lost wages. Economists or doctors may be able to provide information about more speculative forms of these damages, such as the lost earning capacity, physical capacity, future medical expenses, and pain and suffering.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are meant to punish the offender for egregious actions. They are meant to deter future conduct from community members and to serve as a warning to others. These damages are typically established by statute and can usually go up to a certain amount. However, some statutes have exceptions that allow for higher awards of these damages.

Help from a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured because of a drunk driving accident, a Tampa car accident lawyer may be able to help. He or she may be able to explain whether punitive damages may be available in your case. Call Abrahamson & Uiterwyk today at 1-855-293-5630 for a free initial consultation and case evaluation.

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