Posted on: 7 March 2018
Being involved in a car accident is not fun and nothing you should attempt to do on purpose. However, if the you were involved in an auto collision with a drunk driver, here are a couple of ways the defendant's intoxicated state can help your case.
You May Be Awarded More Money
A person dies from being in a crash involving a drunk driver every 51 minutes, and intoxicated driving is causes $44 billion in property damage every year. In an effort to stop people from getting behind the wheel of a vehicle when they're intoxicated, judges will often hit drunk drivers with severe punishments, and this applies in civil court as well. In fact, it's not unusual for courts to award victims punitive damages in these cases to punish the liable party for behaving irresponsibly and causing an accident while driving drunk.
For instance, a Connecticut man was awarded $275,153 in punitive damages after he was injured by an impaired driver who rear-ended him when he stopped his vehicle for road construction. Another woman was awarded $1.5 million in damages after she sustained life-threatening injuries when she was involved in a head-on collision with a drunk driver.
Although any case can result in the award of punitive damages, there's a higher chance you'll receive them if the defendant has a history of driving intoxicated (e.g. prior arrests and conviction for DUI). Thus, it's a good idea to investigate the defendant's background and provide the court with evidence of prior bad acts to help bolster your case.
Your Judgment is Non-Dischargeable
Another way the driver's intoxicated states helps you is any court award you receive cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. A common way many people get out of paying court judgment is to file for bankruptcy and have the debt wiped away. When this happens, you won't receive any money and you will be barred by the law from attempting to continue collecting on the debt.
However, bankruptcy law makes a special exception for damages that result from accidents caused by intoxicated driving. It doesn't matter if the defendant files for chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy, the debt will survive the proceeding and you will be able to institute any collection action necessary to obtain the money owed to you.
Be aware, though, that you may need to file an objection with the bankruptcy court once you're notified the defendant has filed a petition to have his or her debts wiped cleaned. Once you produce the required paperwork and proof, though, your judgment will be protected from being eliminated.
For assistance with filing or managing an auto accident lawsuit, contact an attorney, such as at bob fain law.Share