As with any car accident, you are entitled to seek damages for the injuries you incurred because of the negligence of another driver. Some states impose what are known as punitive damages for certain personal injury claims. Knowing how punitive damages are handled for DUI accidents in Illinois is important, and a Chicago personal injury lawyer can help.
The Basics of Punitive Damages
Punitive damages were introduced to award additional compensation to victims beyond reasonable compensatory damages. Most personal injury claims seek compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, both of which can be assigned a solid dollar amount. Even with estimated future medical damages, a reasonable figure can usually be decided.
Punitive damages are more ambiguous, and in most cases, there is no maximum dollar amount they can exceed. The amount of punitive damages is usually determined by the amount awarded for compensatory damages, and capped at a 4:1 ratio. This means the amount of punitive damages rarely exceeds 4 times the compensatory damages in a DUI accident case.
It is important to note however, that punitive damages are reserved for cases of DUI that go above the beyond typical negligence and show intentional misconduct on the part of the defendant.
Justification of Punitive Damages
Punitive damages were introduced for many reasons:
- to prevent under-compensation of victims
- to deter reckless or malicious behavior
- to discourage actions which cause negligence
For these reasons, punitive damages are also known as “exemplary damages” as they work to set an example for others who may engage in potentially dangerous or malicious acts.
In the case of a DUI accident in Illinois, punitive damages seek to set an example in the case and deter others from causing a DUI accident. This is done by showing how the drunk driver is financially punished in addition to criminal charges.
Each state views the awarding of punitive damages differently, so it’s important to know how this may effect your case settlement. Continue on to see how Illinois courts handle punitive damages in a DUI accident claim and how a Chicago personal injury lawyer can evaluate your chances for awarding of punitive damages.
Illinois Courts and Punitive Damages
Illinois courts generally do not support imposing punitive damages in personal injury claims. However, this is not always true for DUI accidents, and courts occasionally allow victims of a DUI accident to seek punitive damages in their claim.
In a DUI accident, the victim has to prove:
- that the driver consumed enough intoxicant to make them lose full control of their mental and physical faculties
- that impairment caused the DUI accident and injury
- the driver showed disregard for the safety of others by driving drunk
Insurance Settlements and Punitive DamagesPunitive damages in a DUI accident claim are an area of conflict for insurance companies. An insurance policy does not cover for punitive damages. In this case, the money is paid out of the defense’s personal assets. Insurance is there to protect personal assets, so if you are seeking punitive damages in your DUI accident claim, this pressures the insurance company to settle and protect their clients’ assets.
This is why many DUI accident claims tend to settle at higher values than non-DUI car accidents. You can pressure the insurance company to settle for your full terms and avoid them low-balling your claim. Your DUI accident claim should be reviewed by a Chicago personal injury lawyer who knows when to seek punitive damages.
How a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You
At the start of your DUI accident claim you should get advice on what kind of damages you can seek. An experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer will know when it may be a good idea to attempt to seek punitive damages in addition to normal compensatory damages.
A Chicago personal injury lawyer at The Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C. can evaluate your case for free and help you file your DUI accident claim, contact us today – (312) 263-1080