If you or a loved one got hurt in an accident that involved a driver under the influence of alcohol, you might wonder what damages you could recover for a drunk driving accident claim. Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to pursue compensatory damages, punitive damages, and wrongful death damages.
Every motor vehicle accident injury claim is different. So, we cannot state an amount that will accurately reflect the money damages you could recover. The facts of your situation will control the monetary value of your case.
What Are Compensatory Damages in a Drunk Driving Accident Claim?
When a person gets hurt in a collision, they can go after money damages to compensate them for their losses. These losses can be economic or non-economic.
Economic losses can include things like:
Medical Bills for Treatment of the Injuries
The following expenses can be a part of this category:
- Emergency room
- Diagnostic tests
- X-rays and other imaging studies
- Physical therapy
- Prescription drugs
Lost Wages Because of the Injury and Medical Interventions
This category can encompass paychecks you lost when recuperating from the accident and undergoing medical procedures like surgery and physical therapy. Another component to lost income is any reduction in earning capacity the accident caused.
Non-economic losses typically do not have the paper trail that economic losses have, but these non-economic items are legitimate damages. For example:
- Pain and suffering damages represent the physical discomfort and emotional distress the injured person experienced.
- Disfigurement damages can be appropriate when a person develops extensive scars from accident wounds.
- Loss of enjoyment of life damages can make the at-fault party pay for the harm they caused to the injured person’s life in the form of things they can no longer do because of their injuries. This can include walking, picking up and holding a child, or engaging in other activities.
Another term for non-economic damages is intangible losses.
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Can I Seek an Award of Punitive Damages from a Drunk Driving Accident?
Punitive damages do not apply to all car accident cases. Indiana Code § 34-51-3-4 says that punitive damages, also called exemplary damages, are limited to $50,000 or three times the compensatory damages the court awards.
The plaintiff would have to prove that the defendant committed willful misconduct with callous disregard for the harm to others. Even if one can win a request for punitive damages, 75 percent of the amount collected from the defendant goes to the state-run violent crime victims fund. The most that the injured person can recover in punitive damages is 25 percent of $50,000; in other words, $12,500.
What Happens if My Close Relative Died from a Drunk Driving Collision?
Your personal injury attorney might be able to file a wrongful death against the liable party. This lawsuit could seek additional damages on behalf of the legal beneficiaries.
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Can Indiana’s Dram Shop Law Help Me After a Drunk Driving Crash?
Our state’s Dram Shop Law (IC 7.1-5-10-15.5) might offer some options for compensation. You would need to prove that another party served the defendant alcohol when the defendant was already obviously intoxicated or was underage, though.
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What Does Car Insurance Have to Do with My Case?
The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles says that everyone who drives a motor vehicle in our state must carry at least the minimum liability insurance, consisting of the following coverage:
- $25,000 for bodily injury to or the death of one person
- $50,000 for bodily injury to or the death of two or more individuals in a single accident
- $25,000 for property damage
If you or a loved one suffered severe injuries in a collision involving a drunk driver, the emergency room bills alone could approach $25,000. The defendant’s legal liability is not limited to the amount of insurance he carries.
What Can I do If My Losses are Greater Than the At-Fault Driver’s Liability Insurance?
The at-fault driver will be liable for the full amount of money damages the court awards. If that award is greater than the defendant’s automobile liability insurance, you could have additional options for recovering the remaining damages. For example:
- If you have underinsured motorist coverage on your automobile insurance policy, that rider might help with some of the unpaid damages.
- The at-fault driver might have an umbrella liability insurance rider on his homeowner’s insurance. Be aware, however, that some insurance will not cover drunk driving accidents.
- You might be able to go after the defendant’s personal assets, like bank accounts, investments, and other items.
- You might be able to garnish the defendant’s wages. This method can take a long time to reach the total amount owed, but sometimes it is worth it.
Depending on the facts of your case, you might have additional options to recover other damages for a drunk driving accident claim.
Count on Our Legal Team to Support You After a Drunk Driving Accident in Indiana
You can call the Sevenish Law Firm, P.C., today at (317) 636-7777 for a free case evaluation. There is no obligation. You do not have to stand alone after an accident like this. Our car accident lawyers are here for you.
You technically could file a drunk driving accident claim without an attorney. However, our professionals have knowledge and resources you might not have access to. Do not risk forfeiting your right to compensation because of a mistake.