Punitive Damages After Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk driving accidents kill about 10,000 people in the United States each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this equates to approximately one person being killed every 52 minutes as a result of drunk driving. Victims of drunk driving have the right to seek compensation for their losses. If you experienced a significant injury, you can opt-out of the no-fault system and file a lawsuit in New York. If you win the lawsuit, you might receive compensation for both economic and noneconomic losses. Typically, you can be reimbursed for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, it is also possible that the jury may award you punitive damages.
Definition of Punitive Damages in New York Law
Punitive damages are a type of compensation that can be granted to victims of drunk driving accidents. Punitive damages are imposed to “punish” the wrongdoer, not to compensate for any loss sustained by the plaintiff. Nonetheless, the plaintiff will not always be awarded punitive damages in a drunk driving case. Punitive damages are granted where the at-fault motorist was exceptionally negligent or reckless, or when their acts demonstrated full disregard for the well-being of others. The main idea behind punitive damages is to punish those actions that are considered completely reprehensible, such as drunk driving. This penalty may serve as a specific deterrence to the defendant as well as a general warning to society as a whole.
Proving Evidence to Obtain Punitive Damages
To win the case, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant was negligent, just as in any other litigation. You will need to establish a compelling case with the necessary evidence to prove that the intoxicated driver was at fault. However, demonstrating that the other driver was at fault is not always sufficient to get compensation for punitive damages.
Punitive damages, as previously stated, are given when the perpetrator was exceptionally reckless or behaved with willful neglect. Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or above is considered intoxicated driving. Having proof that the motorist was driving while extremely intoxicated might be a useful piece of evidence. On the other hand, if the at-fault driver is a repeat offender and you can prove it in court, you can bring it up.
What’s the Difference Between Compensatory & Punitive Damages?
Compensatory damages, as the name implies, are awarded to the plaintiff to compensate for their losses. Compensatory damages should place the plaintiff in the same financial condition as they were before the accident. Keep in mind that compensatory damages include both economic and non-economic damages. Economic losses are those that can be objectively provable monetary losses such as past and future medical bills, loss of past and future earnings, loss of property usage, repair or replacement costs, and the economic worth of domestic services. On the other hand, compensation for subjective, non-monetary losses such as pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life is referred to as non-economic damages.
Punitive damages are not intended to recompense the plaintiff for any loss. That is, punitive damages might be given even if the jury has previously awarded compensation for all of the victim’s losses. Punitive damages are intended to penalize the negligent motorist and do not pay for any economic or noneconomic harm.
Average Settlements for Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk driving accident compensation might vary greatly depending on the severity of the accident. Some settlements can vary from $80,000 to $125,000, but this is not a guarantee that you will receive that amount of money in your particular situation. Every case is different, and the best way to estimate the value of your claim is to consult with an expert drunk driving attorney. The severity of your injuries is one of the most important determining factors. If you have severe injuries that necessitate surgery, rehabilitation, and other medical treatments, your payout will most likely be substantial. Similarly, noneconomic damages can dramatically increase the settlement sum.
There are several ways to calculate the dollar amount you should receive for noneconomic losses. Your attorney will decide which method is better for your case. Finally, your settlement amount can drastically change if the jury awards you with punitive damages. Remember that punitive damages do not compensate for any of your losses. The amount of money you can receive will vary depending on the severity of the offense committed by the at-fault driver.
Greenberg & Stein Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
Greenberg & Stein P.C. is a law firm located in New York dedicated to helping people who have suffered an injury due to someone else’s carelessness. Drunk driving is a very dangerous activity that puts at risk the drunk driver and other drivers and pedestrians. If you have recently been a victim of drunk driving, do not hesitate to contact us. Our attorneys have vast experience handling drunk driving cases and have represented countless clients in court. Call us at 888-716-3843 to schedule a free consultation to review your case.