When a car crash is caused due to a drunk driver, the resulting damages can be astronomical. Not only are drunk drivers subject to criminal liability, but due to their actions in choosing to get behind the wheel while over the legal limit, they may also be subject to enhanced damages in a civil lawsuit, including punitive damages. A drunk driver is one who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle with a blood alcohol content level of 0.08% or higher, if over the age of 21, and 0.01% or higher if under 21 years. There are additional standards for truck drivers, drivers without driver’s licenses, and drivers with a prior DUI history.
Punitive damages, separate from typical economic and non-economic damages available to compensate the injured party for their losses, are designed specifically to punish the wrongdoer and deter future similar conduct. In the context of drunk driving, punitive damages may be available if it can be proven that the driver acted with malice, oppression, or fraud. This may arise when the driver had a long history of driving under the influence, or when the actions of the driver in driving while drunk were so egregious that punitive damages should be imposed.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a car crash by a drunk driver, it is important to get an attorney involved early so that evidence including the driver’s blood alcohol level and witness statements can be preserved. KTL’s team takes an aggressive approach to all cases to ensure that all evidence gets captured early on in order to begin building the case against the at-fault driver as soon as possible.