Drunk Driver at Fault

Question: I was injured in an automobile accident where the person at fault was drunk. Does his drinking make a difference in what I am entitled to?

Answer:

Yes, it probably will increase the amount you are entitled to recover. For negligence without alcohol, you are entitled to be compensated for the actual injury and/or damages you received as a result of the other person’s negligence. This is based upon the nature and extent of the injury, the effect upon your physical health, the pain and suffering experienced, the ability or inability to perform usual activities, lost wages and the cost of medical treatment, as well as the property damage caused by the other person.

When you add the element of intoxication, the intoxicated driver may be liable for punitive damages. Punitive damages may be awarded as a punishment to discourage others from committing similar wrongful acts. To obtain punitive damages, you must show that the intoxicated driver had a state of mind under which his conduct can be characterized by hatred, ill will, or a spirit of revenge, or by a conscious disregard for the rights and safety of others which has a great probability of causing substantial harm. This latter definition has been expanded to include behavior which may be characterized as “reckless, wanton, willful or gross”.

The conduct of drinking and driving may, under circumstances of each individual case, constitute a kind of reckless, outrageous behavior causing a jury to conclude that the defendant possessed a willful indifference to the rights and safety of others, justifying an award of punitive damages.

It is always best to discuss your concerns with an attorney. Contact our office for further information, a free consultation, or representation, and we will be glad to give you our personal attention, or your may visit our website atsternbergandzeid.com or e-mail us at sternbergzeid@ameritech.net .

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