Attorneys Robert, David and James Cody

Protecting The Rights Of The Injured Let the Codys Fight for You

Can you receive punitive damages if hit by a drunk driver?

On Behalf of | Oct 29, 2022 | Car Crashes |

A car accident can have devastating physical, emotional and financial consequences. Tort law allows you an avenue to recover the damages you suffered.

However, if the negligent driver was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident, the court may order them to pay punitive damages as well.

What are punitive damages?

To receive compensation for your losses in a car accident case, you must prove the defendant acted negligently, resulting in the accident and your injuries. To receive punitive damages, the other driver’s behavior must constitute gross negligence or malintent.

In Minnesota, driving while drunk is gross negligence. As a result, the court may decide to punish the defendant financially by ordering them to pay punitive damages in addition to the compensatory damages proven in the case.

What compensatory damages can you receive?

Compensatory damages include two types of losses: economic and non-economic. The economic losses are those with an inherent numerical value. Examples include:

  • The cost of medical care, including medication, emergency care, hospital and doctor visits, rehabilitation and necessary medical devices
  • Income lost from missing work
  • Loss of earning capacity if your injuries resulted in permanent impairment or disability
  • Cost of property damage

The non-economic losses are psychological. They may include the physical and mental pain and suffering you endured during your recovery, loss of the ability to enjoy life, anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Accurately identifying and valuing your non-economic losses is important to ensure you receive a fair settlement or award.