An experienced car accident lawyer will discover every possible way to obtain the maximum amount of compensation available to their clients. In some drunk driving cases this may include punitive damages.

What are punitive damages?

Compensatory damages are meant to reimburse a plaintiff for their economic loss such as medical bills and expenses, property damage, loss of earning capacity, and other incurred losses.

Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant for their actions and deter them from committing the act again in the future, in this case, driving under the influence.

California Civil Code Section 3294

This Civil Code states:

“In an action for the breach of an obligation not arising from contract, where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice, the plaintiff, in addition to the actual damages, may recover damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant.”

Malice is a conscious disregard of the safety of others, such as when someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol gets behind the wheel.

California Supreme Court extends punitive damages to drunk drivers

To establish malice, the plaintiff must establish that in “order to justify an award of punitive damages on this basis, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant was aware of the probable dangerous consequences of his conduct, and that he willfully and deliberately failed to avoid those consequences.” Taylor v. Superior Court (1979) 24 Cal. 3rd 890

Injured by a drunk driver?

If you or a loved one has been injured by someone DUI please feel free to contact me today for a free consultation.

I will be happy to take a look at your unique situation and discuss compensatory damages and the possibility of punitive damages.