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Can You Get Punitive Damages after a Crash with a Drunk Driver in California?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017By Richard Alexander

A car crash is a difficult event to deal with. It causes damages to property, bodily harm and injuries, lost work time, pain and suffering, and in some cases permanent physical impairment or death. A car crash is more than an inconvenience; in some cases, it is a life-changing event.

What’s worse than being in a car crash is knowing that the crash could have been avoided. A car crash involving a drunk driver most definitely could have been avoided if that driver had not been drinking before he or she got behind the wheel

When you get into a car accident, you can file a claim against the driver who caused the accident. You should be compensated for losses that are a result of that car crash. This includes property damage to your vehicle, any injuries to you or your passengers, lost work time, and past and future medical expenses. If there is insurance involved, it will likely be responsible to compensate you for your losses and make you “whole,” in other words, to return injured persons to the same condition they were in before the accident.

If you get into a car accident with a drunk driver, you are, of course, entitled to be compensated for everything you’ve lost as a result of that accident. However, if the other driver was under the influence, you could also be entitled to punitive damages.

Punitive damages are essentially a punishment for the person who negligently caused harm–a financial punishment. In cases where a car crash is caused by a drunk driver, you may be able to receive punitive damages in addition to compensation for damages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.

If you are to obtain punitive damages, you will have to demonstrate that the drunk driver operated the motor vehicle with malice. To establish malice, you must prove that the offending driver: (1) voluntarily drank alcohol; (2) knew that he or she would operate a motor vehicle; (3) operated a motor vehicle in an intoxicated condition; (4) was aware of the probable consequences of his or her conduct; and (5) willfully and deliberately failed to avoid those consequences.

The attorneys at the Alexander Law Group, LLP believe in empowering Americans. That's why we represent individuals who have been badly injured in accidents. If you need legal help after you are involved in a car crash with a drunk driver, contact the attorneys at Alexander Law Group, LLP at 888.777.1776 for a free case consultation. People who irresponsibly harm others should be held accountable for their actions.

While the results that we have obtained in other cases and our clients' testimonials do not guarantee, promise or predict the outcome of your case, we do promise to do our very best for you in your case.

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