Can You Collect Punitive Damages After a Drunk Driving Accident?

With the availability of ride-share companies, there is simply no excuse for someone to drink and then get behind the wheel. The odds of them getting into a drunk driving accident and hurting someone are high.

This is why your Charlotte car accident lawyer may be able to convince the court to grant you punitive damages in your lawsuit. We’ll explain what punitive damages are and what your attorney needs to prove to win these damages.

What Are Punitive Damages and When Are the Courts More Likely to Award Them?

Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant and deter others from similar behavior. To recover punitive damages in North Carolina, your lawyer must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the at-fault driver’s conduct was wanton or willful. It’s not enough if the at-fault driver was simply negligent.

How can your Charlotte accident attorney prove that the defendant’s behavior was outrageous or reckless? Well, they’ll need to show that the driver knew their actions were likely to cause injury or death, but still chose to drink and drive.

What Factors Will Determine Whether You Receive Punitive Damages?

Nobody is guaranteed punitive damages. In fact, not all drunk driving accident victims receive any compensation at all. There are certain factors that the judge will consider when deciding whether the defendant should have to pay punitive damages:

  • Whether the defendant was aware of the risks of their actions and chose to ignore them
  • The degree of the defendant’s negligence
  • The foreseeability of the plaintiff’s injuries
  • The nature and extent of the plaintiff’s injuries
  • The amount of financial loss suffered by the plaintiff

Since every case is different, there’s no way for your Charlotte accident attorney to know ahead of time what the court will do. What they will do is submit whatever evidence they can find to prove that the defendant’s behavior was intentional and outrageous.

Is There a Limit to How Much You Can Receive in Punitive Damages?

Unfortunately, there is a limit to how much you can receive in punitive damages. In North Carolina, your punitive damages are limited to either $250,000 or three times the amount of your economic damages, whichever is higher.

For example, if your medical bills, property damages, and lost income totaled $100,000, you would be limited to $300,000. Since three times your economic damages is higher than $250,000, you would be entitled to the higher amount.

Can Your Charlotte Accident Attorney Submit Proof That the Defendant Was Convicted of DUI?

While North Carolina does allow for punitive damages in certain cases, it can be difficult to prove that the at-fault driver was actually intoxicated at the time of the accident.

To have a successful claim for punitive damages, your attorney will need to gather evidence to show that the driver was drinking and driving and that their intoxication was a direct cause of the accident. This may include witness statements, video footage, or blood alcohol test results.

In addition, your Charlotte accident attorney will submit proof of the defendant’s DUI conviction. This will go a long way toward proving special damages.

Call Our Office and Schedule Your Free, Initial Consultation with a Charlotte Accident Attorney

If a drunk driver smashed into your car or SUV, you have a right to be angry. You may also have the right to demand punitive damages. If you want to increase your chances of receiving compensation for punitive damage, you should call a Charlotte accident attorney.

We suggest you call our office today at 704.706.2689 and schedule your free, initial consultation. This way, your car accident lawyer will have plenty of time to gather the necessary evidence.