Very few Buffalo motor vehicle injury cases involve punitive damages.
Punitive damages are money that a jury may award to someone who has been injured that goes beyond the amount actually needed to compensate that person for the injury.
Because most car accidents involve drivers who were simply negligent in the operation of the vehicle, punitive damages are not available.
Drunk drivers, however, have chosen to operate a car in an impaired condition and place others in danger.
While this does not mean that every injury accident involving alcohol will result in the drunk driver being required to pay punitive damages to the injured person, the fact that there is an element of deliberate intent in drunk driving accidents does open up the possibility that punitive damages may be awarded.
It is not enough, however, that the driver who caused the accident was intoxicated.
For punitive damages to be granted, it must be proven that he or she acted maliciously or with complete indifference to the safety of others.
As a result, a personal injury attorney usually must also prove that the drunk driver engaged in some additional reckless conduct demonstrating the driver’s indifference – such as choosing to drive at a very high rate of speed while under the influence of alcohol – before punitive damages may be awarded.
When pursuing a claim against a drunk driver, an experienced personal injury lawyer will carefully evaluate the case and pursue all compensation that may be available.
If you have been injured by someone who chose to drive while intoxicated, we would be happy to help you.
Please feel free to call us at 585-484-7432 to set up a legal consultation.