Can I Seek Punitive Damages After a Collision With a Drunk Driver?

Chicago Car AccidentIf you are in a car accident, you can seek compensation for your injuries — but what if the at-fault driver admitted to or was convicted of a DUI as a part of the collision? In some cases, it may be possible to seek punitive damages from that driver in addition to recouping your medical costs, and a capable Illinois personal injury lawyer can help.

When Can I Sue for Punitive Damages?

Compensatory damages are intended to compensate a wronged party for injury or damaged property, while punitive damages are meant to punish the party that was responsible for an injury or property damage. Punitive damages are also sometimes called “exemplary damages” because they are intended to act as an example — or a deterrent — to others who may commit such acts.

To pursue punitive damages in a car accident case, the following criteria must be met:

  • The responsible party’s misconduct must be deemed reckless, or must at least exceed the threshold of ordinary negligence. In other words, some amount of intention must be proven — and in many cases, driving while intoxicated may meet this threshold.
  • A lawsuit seeking punitive damages must obtain leave of court (permission from the judge) before proceeding.
  • Compensatory damages must be awarded prior to punitive damages.

What is considered a reasonable amount for punitive damages will vary according to both the circumstances and the compensatory damages awarded.

In some cases, the mere threat of punitive damages may prompt a defendant to seek a settlement. Whether you wish to press forward in seeking those damages or pursue a settlement, it is important to have an experienced Illinois personal injury lawyer on your side.

Rubens and Kress Concentrates in Personal Injury Cases

If you have been hurt in an auto accident, you should seek the counsel of an experienced Illinois personal injury lawyer. Rubens and Kress has a record of success in personal injury cases, and there is absolutely no fee unless you collect. To schedule a free consultation, contact Rubens and Kress online, at 312-201-9640, or toll-free at 866-890-9640.