Can You Sue a Drunk Driver for Punitive Damages?
Too often, serious injuries and even death are caused by an accident involving a drunk driver. If you or a loved one are suffering from an injury, you may be entitled to damages stemming from a drunk driving crash. And because impaired driving is willfully reckless, you may have the right to receive punitive damages as well.
Punitive damages are a type of compensation that isn’t designed to financially recover from losses, but for other reasons, as we’ll see below. If you or a loved one are suffering from an injury caused by a drunk driver, contact a reputable Tennessee car accident attorney now to learn about your legal rights and whether or not you are eligible to receive compensatory and punitive damages.
What Are Punitive Damages?
A basic tenet of personal injury law is that victims should receive compensation to cover the damages arising from an accident. These expenses include the cost of vehicle repair, medical care, and loss of wages, which are considered “compensatory damages.” By contrast, punitive damages are not designed to indemnify the victim. Rather, the purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant for gross negligence and to deter future misconduct.
How Can I Pursue Punitive Damages from a Drunk Driver?
Generally speaking, punitive damages are only awarded when an extreme lack of care is exhibited by the drunk driver. Since drinking and driving is a voluntary choice, victims of drunk driving accidents may be more likely to win punitive damages.
To obtain punitive damages, you must prove that the defendant was legally driving under the influence. Under Tennessee law, if law enforcement finds that a motorist is operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, then that driver is guilty of driving while intoxicated (DW).
Also, Tennessee law states that punitive damages may be awarded “if the claimant proves by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant against whom punitive damages are sought acted maliciously, intentionally, fraudulently or recklessly.”
If you are considering pursuing compensatory and/or punitive damages for your injuries, you should contact a skilled personal injury lawyer so they can immediately begin securing evidence. For example, your attorney can obtain police records, interview witnesses, and gather video and photographic evidence, if available. It’s always better to secure evidence soon after an accident while evidence is still accessible and before witnesses’ memories fade.
Get Help from a Tennessee Car Accident Attorney to Sue for Punitive Damages
If you or a loved one has been physically harmed in an auto accident caused by a drunk driver, seek legal help immediately. The attorneys at Bednarz Law have the experience and skills to seek the maximum compensation allowed by law. Our talented Tennessee lawyers have earned a solid reputation for excellence representing our clients in personal injury cases.
Call Bednarz Law at 615-256-0100 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation. We’ll answer any questions you may have and give you all the information you need to know to move forward.