Can You Get Punitive Damages if You’re Hurt in a DUI Accident?
When people meet with their Houston car wreck lawyer for the first time, they want to know one thing – what is their case worth? It wouldn’t be fair for any attorney to answer this question right away. They need to thoroughly review your case before they give this kind of estimate. However, if you were hit by a drunk driver, you may be entitled to special damages.
In certain cases, the courts in Texas award what is called punitive damages. These are intended to punish the defendant. In order to get this kind of compensation, your Houston car accident lawyer will have to show that the defendant acted recklessly or with gross negligence. This means your lawyer will have to go above and beyond the normal burden of proof. They’ll do everything they can to get you as much money as possible. Just understand that every case is unique. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be entitled to a variety of damages, including punitive damages.
What Exactly are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant. Not only does the court want to deter the defendant from ever behaving that way again. They also want to send a message to the public. The courts will not tolerate drunk driving. It is reprehensible, and the courts want to make that very clear. However, in order to receive punitive damages, your Houston car accident lawyer needs to prove that the defendant was reckless, fraudulent, or acted with gross negligence. They also need to prove this with clear and convincing evidence. It is a high standard to meet.
Your Houston car wreck lawyer won’t convince a court to award these damages simply by showing ordinary negligence. They’ll have to go a step further. Basically, you’ll have to show that the other driver acted in a way that no rational person would have behaved. Most reasonable people wouldn’t drink ten beers and then get behind the wheel. The hard part will be proving that they were actually drunk at the time of the crash. That’s why it’s so important that you call the police immediately after your crash.
Judges are Very Reluctant to Award Punitive Damages in Texas
The judges in Texas have to be very careful when issuing punitive damages. These damages tend to be rather high. It would be irresponsible for a judge to award them in every personal injury or car accident case. However, if your Houston car accident lawyer can show the other driver acted with gross negligence, you should be awarded these special damages.
Your Houston Car Wreck Lawyer Will Still Push for As Much Compensation as Possible
In addition to punitive damages, your Houston car accident lawyer will still demand that you receive the standard types of compensatory damages. This includes some, if not all of the following:
- Property damage
- Medical bills
- Future medical care
- lost wages
- Lost future income
- Pain and suffering
Pain and suffering are not the same thing as punitive damages. Pain and suffering are meant to compensate you for the physical and mental anguish caused by the crash. Punitive damages are meant to be a reflection of the defendant’s behavior – not your injuries. Although, the more serious your injuries, the greater your damages.
Talk to a Skilled Houston Car Wreck Lawyer Right Away
If you’re hurt in a drunk driving accident, you’re going to want the other driver to pay. It’s impossible to understand why somebody would get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. If they do, they’re putting the lives of innocent people at risk. Your Houston car wreck attorney is going to do what it takes to prove the defendant was at fault. If they think your case warrants it, they’ll demand that you receive punitive damages. It’s not easy to convince a judge that you’re entitled to them. However, if there is proof that the other driver was intoxicated at the time of the crash, you may be successful.
The only way to know for sure is to call and talk to an experienced Houston car wreck lawyer right away. They can sit down with you and go over your case. They’ll look at the evidence and see how strong your case is. They can also answer any questions you may have. Take advantage of this time. This is when you’ll decide, with your attorney, how best to succeed. Call today and schedule your free, initial consultation.