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Legal Blog

Drunk Driving Lawsuits & Collecting Punitive Damages

Houston, TX is among the worst places for DUI accidents in the U.S. And being the victim of a drunk driving accident is one of the most devastating things you can experience. Through no fault of your own, you are suddenly thrown into a world of injuries, property damage, lost income, and pain. In situations like this, justice may seem impossible. However, drunk driving lawsuits allow victims to recover some or all of their losses.

With decades of experience and a long history of results holding impaired drivers accountable in Harris County, if you or someone you love has been hurt or killed in a drunk driving accident, let The Krist Law Firm help.

Call (281) 283-8500 to discuss your options with a knowledgeable and compassionate car accident lawyer.

What Are Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are one of three types of compensation you may be awarded in a personal injury case. The other categories are economic and non-economic damages, and these categories encompass medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and disability. They are intended solely to cover your actual damages and losses in an accident.

Punitive damages go above and beyond this. They are only awarded when the person liable for the accident demonstrated wanton disregard for safety and acted in a grossly negligent manner.

Punitive Damages if the Other Driver Was Drunk

After a drunk driving car accident, it is likely that you are entitled to punitive damages. Drunk driving, in and of itself, is grossly negligent. When drivers get behind the wheel after drinking, they know there is a chance that their driving will be impaired. Knowing that and choosing to drive anyway is negligent.

However, you still have to prove that the other party was grossly negligent in their actions. This is why it’s important to work with a personal injury lawyer.

How an Attorney Helps Prove Punitive Damages

To collect punitive damages, you have to prove the liable driver’s malice or disregard. In some cases, a DUI conviction is enough to meet that standard. However, this is not always the case. For example, a driver who barely hit the legal limit and underestimated how much they drank may not be viewed the same as a driver who’s had four prior DUI convictions.

In addition, you should also have reasonable expectations of what you may receive as you prepare your personal injury case. Texas damage caps are set by the Texas Damage Act. Under this law, punitive damages are limited to:

  • $200,000 or
  • Twice your economic damages plus non-economic damages, capped at $750,000

Whichever amount is greater is the limit for your punitive damages.

Punitive damages are meant to punish the person responsible for the accident. The amount should be high enough to penalize them for their decisions and discourage others from engaging in similar behavior. However, the limits ensure juries cannot simply award excessive damages that leave people in financial ruin.

No matter the circumstances, your attorney will work with you to prove that you deserve the maximum compensation possible for your losses. This may involve highlighting the other party’s history of drunk driving and decision to continue driving while impaired, demonstrating the serious losses you’ve sustained as a result, and proving that their decisions were not simply an error in judgment.

Contact The Krist Law Firm Today

A drunk driving accident is a setback, but you can move on from your injuries. With the right legal support and representation, you can fight for the compensation you deserve. The Krist Law Firm is dedicated to helping victims like you fight for their rights.

If a drunk driver caused an accident in or around Houston that left you injured, schedule a free consultation now at (281) 293-8500 or reach out online. We’ll tell you what to expect and how to hold the impaired driver accountable.