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Austin Personal Injury Blog

Monday, March 6, 2017

Can I get punitive damages for injuries sustained in a DUI accident?

The aftermath of a DUI accident can be extremely devastating. Drunk drivers pose a significant risk to themselves and others, and many drunk driving accidents result in severe injuries or even death.  

The law takes DUI cases extremely seriously. Many of these cases result in stringent criminal punishments for the guilty party. However, there could be an option for a victim or their family to receive damages on the civil side of the case, including compensatory and punitive damages.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Many DUI cases include some sort of reimbursement to the victim to cover financial burden for any injures or costs associated with death, which can include medical bills and lost wages. These reimbursements are usually intended to bring the injured back to the state they were before the accident.

Punitive damages are a way to further punish a driver, and are used to serve as a warning to others. They are not used to alleviate any losses a victim might have experienced as a result of a DUI accident.

Instead, they are usually given in a case of gross negligence, and some juries see the awarding of punitive damages as a way to demonstrate a message of zero tolerance for drunk driving and DUI offences.

Texas law stipulates that gross negligence is going beyond a simple lapse of judgment and is a “conscious and extreme lack of care that puts the safety of others at risk.”

Building a personal injury lawsuit with an appropriate lawyer is a good strategy if you are seeking punitive damages. The right lawyer will be able to help you get compensation from a DUI accident on the criminal side of a case, and build a case for punitive damages on the civil side.

How Can I Get Punitive Damages?  

The concept of punitive damages has been changing in the United States over the past several years. A US Supreme Court case, Campbell vs. State Farm, ruled that punitive damages must be proportionate to the actual loss or damages suffered.

Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code Section 41 dictates the award of punitive damages, and they can usually be applied in the instances of:

1. Fraud

2. Malice

3. Gross Negligence

One must be able to provide clear and convincing evidence if they are seeking for punitive damages in a DUI case. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to help you with a claim for punitive damages, and be able to advise you about the best way to build a convincing and conclusive case.

However, Texas courts often categorize drunk driving as an instance of punitive damage, and are known to allow high amounts of compensation, especially if the DUI accident results in injury. Additionally, some circumstances allow for the awarding of punitive damages in a way that would render statutory limits on exemplary damages as inapplicable.

Trust The Personal Injury Specialists

If you haves been injured in a drunk driving accident you may be entitled to a significant amount of damages and receive compensation for medical care, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other related expenses. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Tony Nguyen Law Firm will fight for your right to just compensation. Contact us today for a consultation at 512.842.4538.


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