Punitive damages, also referred to as exemplary damages, are only awarded in car accident cases where the driver’s conduct was so egregious as to constitute an indifference or reckless disregard of the health or safety of others. This means that the driver acted deliberately and was fully aware of the consequences of his or her actions. Punitive damages are designed to punish the offender and to deter similar conduct in the future.
The case for punitive damages will arise where the liable driver was under the influence of alcohol and/or had a blood alcohol content of at least 0.08 percent. It is rare for punitive damages to be awarded for any other type of driving conduct. Even recklessness or grossly negligent driving does not warrant an award for punitive damages. More on this <ahref=”http://truckaccidentattorneysa.com/san-antonio-truck-accident-lawyers/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>website
Drunk driving accidents, however, continue to be one of the major causes of car accidents in the U.S. despite massive efforts by schools, law enforcement agencies, groups like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) and Students Against Drunk Drivers (SADD). Even the adult beverage industry has weighed in to remind drivers to act responsibly.
Drinking impairs a motorist’s judgment and muscular coordination, although many motorists feel empowered after drinking and believe they can drive faster and better than anyone else on the roadways.
Thousands of people are killed and even more are injured by intoxicated drivers each year. In recent years, the legal limit for driving has been reduced from 0.10 blood alcohol content (BAC) to 0.08 percent. Though each state can set the legal limit at any level, the federal government will withhold millions of dollars in highway funds for any state that does not adhere to the 0.08 percent level. Accordingly, each state has adopted this standard.
For minors, or those under 21, many states have adopted even lower levels. In many states a minor with a blood alcohol level of 0.02 percent can lose his or her license. In some states, any detectable level of alcohol found in a minor while driving is illegal. A violator can lose his or her license for one year and up to three years if the minor driver refuses to take a blood alcohol test.
Any injury caused by the negligent driving conduct of another can be compensated in a personal injury claim. Any person who drives a motor vehicle is under a legal duty to operate his or her vehicle in a reasonable and safe manner. This includes driving below the speed limit if the traffic or weather conditions warrant it. The failure to adhere to the standard of a reasonably safe driver under the conditions presented can be considered negligence.
Should a driver choose to drink and then drive, it is presumed that the motorist acted negligently.
In most cases a driver with a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.08 percent or who is considered to be under the influence of alcohol, regardless of the percentage, will have caused the accident and the resulting injuries. In these cases, it can be relatively easy for an injured party to collect compensation.
Injured auto accident victims can collect compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
If you have been injured by an intoxicated driver, if your case goes to trial and you have included a clause for punitive damages in your complaint, you will first have to obtain a verdict in your favor. Once that is achieved, a second phase of the trial determines the amount of punitive damages, if any, that the court or jury will award. A jury will consider the defendant’s financial condition in assessing the award although an excessive award will nearly always be reduced either by the trial judge or an appellate court.
Texas law does not require that auto insurers pay punitive damages. This will have to come from the driver personally. Your attorney will typically have found out what assets the driver possesses that are subject to a court judgment and seizure before a trial or settlement to determine if it is worthwhile to pursue such a course of action. More information here