While any car wreck can cause physical injury, those involving a drunk driver are often devastating. Due to the reckless behavior of drunk drivers, these accidents often involve excessive speed, head-on collisions, and catastrophic injuries.
Those hit by a drunk driver in North Carolina may be entitled to additional compensation that is not awarded in other car accident lawsuits. Please call Rhine Law Firm, P.C., at (910) 501-2474 to learn more. The sooner you take action, the better.
What Types of Compensation Are Available After a DUI Crash?
After any car accident, there may be several types of compensation available. Special damages pay for your medical expenses, lost income, vehicle repairs, and any other expenses you need to pay to treat your injuries. These are relatively easy to document, calculate, and prove.
Another type of compensation is known as general damages. These are not as easy to prove. General damages include compensation for pain and suffering and are thought to be subjective. They don’t have a set dollar amount assigned to them, and the extent of these damages can vary depending on the individual and the nature of the accident. Together, special and general damages are known as “compensatory damages.”
In North Carolina, punitive damages are a type of compensation awarded to injured individuals if another person acted with fraud, malice, or willful or wanton conduct in causing their injuries. Drunk drivers usually qualify. So you could be eligible for punitive damages on top of compensatory damages.
Calculating how much you are owed after a traumatic DUI collision can be challenging, but an experienced North Carolina personal injury lawyer can help you and your family determine what to ask for.
The Facts on Punitive Damages in NC
There are a number of laws and guidelines pertaining to punitive damages in each state. North Carolina has a “cap” or limits on punitive damages in most cases; typically three times the amount of compensatory damages or $250,000—whichever is greater. But the state legislature has determined there is no cap in drunk driving cases.
However, punitive damages are not guaranteed simply because a driver was drunk at the time of the accident. Although law enforcement officers likely tested the driver’s blood-alcohol level at the scene, you, as a plaintiff, must also prove the defendant acted willfully or wantonly. Simply being drunk does not always qualify.
Punitive damages are meant to punish those who act with blatant disregard for the safety of others. They are also meant to deter others from acting in the same manner. If the DUI was a second or subsequent offense, this helps serve as proof the defendant acted willfully or wantonly, and you are more likely to be awarded punitive damages. A Wilmington DUI victim attorney at Rhine Law Firm, P.C., will research these facts for you while preparing your claim.
How Our Legal Team Can Help You
When you sit down with a Wilmington car accident lawyer at Rhine Law Firm, P.C., we can tell you more about how punitive damages will apply to your case in North Carolina. If you hire us, we will fight to uphold your rights and claim the full amount of compensation you are entitled to. We have 30 years of experience winning lawsuits in all sorts of vehicle crashes, and we offer a free initial consultation. Please call (910) 501-2474 today.