Can You Demand Punitive Damages in a Drunk Driving Lawsuit?

Victims of drunk driving accidents are often left with physical and emotional scars that may never fully heal. A Charlotte car accident attorney can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Unlike compensatory damages, demands for punitive damages require proof that the defendant was grossly negligent to the point of being reckless. Luckily, a personal injury attorney can evaluate if you are eligible to receive these types of damages and can also handle your lawsuit.

What Are Punitive Damages and When Does North Carolina Award Them?

Punitive damages are a type of monetary compensation that is awarded to the plaintiff as a means of punishing the defendant. In the case of a drunk driving accident, a plaintiff may be awarded punitive damages if the actions of the defendant were grossly negligent and reckless

In North Carolina, punitive damages can only be awarded in qualifying cases, such as a defendant committing a willful or wanton act that resulted in injury to the plaintiff. North Carolina General Statute §1D-5(7) outlines what your injury attorney must prove for you to collect punitive damages. It must be demonstrated that the defendant knew their actions were likely to cause injury but chose to act anyway.

Your attorney will argue that a drunk driver was well aware of the risks of driving while intoxicated and did so anyway.  Courts may find punitive damages are warranted in cases that involve drunk driving, especially if the driver is a repeat offender.

How Are Punitive Damages Calculated?

Punitive damages are awarded in addition to compensatory damages and are meant to punish the at-fault driver for their extreme negligence. Compensatory damages include such things as medical bills, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering

In North Carolina, there is no set formula for calculating punitive damages. The amount is up to the judge or jury to determine.

punitive damages in a DUI accident lawsuit

The maximum amount of punitive damages you can collect in North Carolina is $250,000 or three times your compensatory damages, whichever is higher.

However, drunk driving is an exception to this rule. There is no cap on punitive damages if the driver in a motor vehicle accident was impaired at the time of the crash.

Other Damages in a Drunk Driving Accident Claim

Our car accident attorneys often some or all of the following damages on behalf of drunk driving accident victims:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

This is not a complete list. The best way to get a clearer idea of what your case may be worth is to contact a lawyer.

Choose an Experienced Charlotte Car Accident Attorney!

If you were hurt in a drunk driving accident, there’s a chance that you’ll be entitled to punitive damages. This is in addition to the compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income, and other damages your injury attorney in Charlotte will demand.

The attorneys at our firm have extensive experience and will fight for the compensation you deserve. All you have to do is call our office at 704.706.2689 and schedule your free, initial consultation.