Licensed in Missouri and Kansas

Deterring Drunk Drivers in Personal Injury Cases

It can be very frustrating when you're hurt in an accident caused by someone else's negligence, and the desire for justice and to hold the negligent driver accountable for their actions can be strong. But when your or a loved one is hurt or killed by a drunk driver, a message of deterrence should absolutely be sent. Here are your options in a personal injury case for sending a deterrence message.

First, keep in mind that one cannot exact criminal penalties on a drunk driver in a personal injury case. Criminal penalties, such as fines, license revocations, and jail time, are only available through criminal prosecution by the state or local government. Filing a personal injury lawsuit against a drunk driver does not make those remedies available.

The most widely-used deterrent against a drunk driver in a personal injury case is punitive damages. Generally the money you get in a personal injury case is meant to compensate you for your injuries, and your level of compensation is tied to your level of loss. But, if the actions of the person committing negligence are egregious, such as with a drunk driver, you can sue them for punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages.

Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for his or her actions and deter him or her and other like them from similar actions in the future. There are limits on how much punitive damages you can get, and half of any punitive damages verdict goes to the State. But, punitive damages are a powerful deterrence in personal injury cases, especially against drunk drivers.