Punitive damages are a special type of damages that may be assessed in accidents where the individual causing the accident is operating their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or some other intoxicating drug.
Punitive damages are designed to punish the driver for being under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, crack, ecstacy or methamphetamine.
The insurance adjusters never tell you about punitive damages yet it has the responsibility to pay those damages in behalf of its insured.
The measure of damages or how much you might be entitled to depends on the facts of each case. Most people might think that if you are not seriously injured that you are not entitled to an award of punitive damages. That is just plain wrong. Our firm routinely obtains punitive damages settlements involving tens of thousands of dollars in excess of the actual damages. For example, we recently obtained $50,000 in punitive damages settlement for an accident victim who only had property damages and very minimal personal injuries. This amount represented the limits of the drunk driverís insurance coverage.
For the most part, the assessment of punitive damages is not related to the actual damages caused. Punitive damages are designed to punish the driver at fault for bad conduct that caused the accident. Punitive damages are societyís way of trying to prevent bad conduct such as driving while intoxicated and to deter or help prevent that type of conduct in the future. Society has a strong and compelling reason to keep drunks off our highways. Punitive damages help to do just that.
In the Wiregrass alone there has been an approximate average of 2,000 accidents caused each year by drivers under the influence of alcohol. Each one of these accidents should produce an award of punitive damages that the insurance companies have to pay. If you are involved in an accident with a drunk driver you should be entitled to an award of punitive damages even if you only incur property damage and certainly if there are personal injuries involved.
Contact Cherry & Irwin for a FREE consultation if you have been involved in an accident involving a driver operating their vehicle while under the influence of any substance including prescribed prescription narcotics.
Some information from AL DOT