After an auto accident, you may receive several types of damages in your settlement, including medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage.Drunk driving, or DUI, is also a criminal charge that’s separate from the civil side of the accident. Chances are a drunk driver will receive a criminal conviction, high fines, and possibly jail time, depending on how many times they’ve been arrested for a DUI. Some drunk drivers are arrested more than once.
You may not have heard of a type of compensation called “punitive damages.” This is frequently awarded in lawsuits such as medical malpractice, product liability, and other civil cases. But in a drunk driving accident, it’s also possible to request and receive this type of compensation.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are damages awarded to a plaintiff to “punish” the defendant for their negligence, and to deter others from doing the same thing. The principle is the same in all types of civil cases. Missouri also refers to these as “exemplary damages.”A person who causes a drunk driving accident is guilty of negligence, and as the defendant, you may also request and receive punitive damages as well as your actual damages. There is a limit on how much you can receive, but any punitive damages are in addition to your other compensatory settlements. Your personal injury attorney can discuss this possibility with you.Last year, the state of Missouri passed SB 591 that raises the standards for this type of compensation. Governor Mike Parsons signed the bill into law on July 1, 2020. In order to receive punitive damages, a plaintiff must prove “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant “intentionally harmed the plaintiff without just cause or acted with a deliberate and flagrant disregard for the safety of others.” This raises the standards of proof for the plaintiff in such a case.Although punitive damages are not always available in car accidents, Missouri requires half of all punitive damages to be turned over to the state, called “split-recovery.”
Dram Shop Liability
Missouri is one of 43 states with state-level “dram shop” laws. The law is named after the 18th Century method of measuring alcohol, called the “dram,” or ¾ of a teaspoon.A dram shop law allows a plaintiff to file a civil lawsuit against an establishment, a bartender, or even a convenience store clerk that sold the alcohol to or over-served the defendant that caused the accident. This is separate from a civil lawsuit filed directly against the defendant.Similarly, Missouri’s “social host” laws also allow a plaintiff to sue someone who knowingly over-serves a guest that is obviously intoxicated and allowing them to drive. As a plaintiff who suffered injuries at the hands of a drunk driver enabled by a “social host,” you may also be able to sue that host for punitive damages.
KC’s Premier Accident Law Firm
Since 1918, The Popham Law Firm has helped hundreds of people in all kinds of accident cases, from simple fender benders to accidents involving injuries and property damage. We’ll be happy to review your case, let you know if you have one, and how to proceed. Contact us at (844) 243-2288 or use our online contact form to get started.