Punitive Damages in DUI Injury Cases
Some of the most deadly car accidents are the result of drunk driving, as these collisions are notorious for occurring at high speeds and with little to no warning. Recognizing the extremely reckless nature and serious consequences of collisions caused by intoxicated drivers, Florida legislators passed a law allowing injured DUI accident victims to seek punitive damages, in addition to economic and non-economic damages from the drunk driver who caused their crash. For help seeking punitive damages from the driver who caused your own serious injuries, please contact one of our dedicated Fort Lauderdale DUI accident lawyers today.
What are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are a special kind of compensation that is not available in most civil cases, as they are only awarded in situations where a judge or jury finds that a defendant caused an injury through his or her conscious disregard or indifference for the life, safety, and rights of others. Intended to punish those who exhibit this type of behavior, punitive damages are often awarded to motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists who are injured by drunk drivers, as courts generally deem driving while intoxicated to be an intentional act that creates known risks to the public, including the risk of injury and death.
Courts don’t always require more than circumstantial evidence of intoxication in order to award punitive damages in a DUI case. In one recent lawsuit, for instance, a Florida court of appeals awarded punitive damages to a plaintiff based on the defendant’s conscious disregard for the well-being of others even though there was no direct proof of intoxication, as he fled the scene immediately after the collision. In spite of the lack of direct evidence of intoxication, the court found that the circumstantial evidence presented by the plaintiff was enough to satisfy the punitive damages burden. The severity of accidents, determined by photographs from the scene of the accident, video recordings, eyewitness testimony, and medical records also plays a role in these determinations.
Recovering Punitive Damages
Florida juries have a significant amount of latitude when it comes to awarding punitive damages to a person who was injured in a collision in which alcohol was a factor. Unfortunately, even when these awards are made, they are not always covered by a defendant’s liability insurance. It is still possible, however, for a successful plaintiff to pursue a judgment from an at-fault party’s personal assets and property. Finally, the possibility of a punitive damages award can play a crucial role in determining the value of a case at the pre-trial level, as insurers are required by state law to consider a jury’s feelings towards an intoxicated driver when making settlement offers to accident victims.
Call Today for Legal Assistance
To schedule a meeting with the DUI lawyers at Boone & Davis, please call us at 954-566-9919. A member of our legal team is standing by to address your DUI accident-related questions and concerns, so please don’t hesitate to call or contact us online at your earliest convenience.