Can I Get Punitive Damages if I am Hurt by a Drunk Driver?

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Although there are laws that seek to regulate and prevent the presence of drivers under the influence of alcohol, recent statistics indicate that driving under the influence of this substance is the cause of more than 33% of traffic accident deaths in the state of California, which translates to about 1,000 deaths annually caused by the negligence of a drunk driver.

California law prohibits the operation of any motor vehicle by individuals under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Under California Vehicle Code 23152, it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Under these same terms, esto laws allow recovery of damages for injuries sustained in an accident involving a drunk driver.

To recover damages for injuries sustained in this type of incident, you must file a civil negligence lawsuit against the at-fault party. This lawsuit aims to prove that your injuries were caused by the defendant’s inability to exercise the duty of reasonable care due to the effects of alcohol. In California, a driver will be considered negligent if:

You are under the influence of any substance at the time of the accident;
Has a blood alcohol level above the legal limit, or
He refuses to submit to a chemical breathalyzer test.

If you are injured because someone else was driving under the influence of alcohol, you may be entitled to recover punitive damages. This means that, either through a court verdict or through negotiations with an adjuster, you can increase the amount of compensation in your claim because a drunk driver’s negligent conduct negatively impacted your well-being and quality of life.

Although punitive damages are an utterly legal remedy, many insurance companies will try to reduce the amount of compensation they must pay for this, and it is common for them to try to cover up or deny your account to avoid paying you. This is why you need to have the support of a good personal injury lawyer to ensure that insurers meet their legal responsibility and compensate you with an amount that suits your situation.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.