Factors that Affect Damage Awards in Georgia Drunk Driving Accident Claims


December 28, 2013

Generally speaking, proving liability and causation in drunk driving-related accidents can be highly complex. Specifically, there are many evidentiary challenges that can arise in these types of cases, which can negatively impact the amount of monetary damages that victims ultimately receive. There are also additional factors that can surface in drunk driving cases, which can also affect the level of compensation awarded. These include the following:

Nature and Severity of Injuries

When a victim suffers more permanent or extensive the injuries in a collision involving a drunk driver, the medical expenses, degree of permanent debilitation, permanent disfigurement, surgeries and other extensive treatment or long-term effects generally increase the amount of recovery in a personal injury claim. Because medical expenses and the extensiveness of treatment comprise a significant component of damages, DUI injury victims need to follow through on all indicated medical diagnostic scans, treatment modalities and rehabilitation.

Degree of Fault by the Drunk Driver

Although the record of conviction from a DUI criminal case may constitute "negligence per se," the insurance carrier typically will assert the defense of comparative negligence. Even if the driving of the intoxicated motorist caused the collision, this does not mean that the insurance carrier will not attempt to shift some of the blame to the drunk driving accident victim. If the judge or jury determines that some of the fault for causing the crash is attributable to the DUI accident victim, the recovery of the drunk driving accident victim may be reduced in proportion to the victim's degree of fault.

Loss of Income and Diminished Earning Capacity

When a motorist is injured in a collision involving an alcohol impaired driver, the person may miss extensive time from work while recovering from broken bones, back injuries or damage to internal organs. Many DUI accidents result in injuries that render the victim incapable of returning to his or her occupation. Some drunk driving accidents lead to total permanent disability. More extensive loss of income or diminished earning ability will increase the amount of financial recovery.

Impact on Quality of Life

Although the component of damages referred to as "general damages," which includes compensation for items like pain and suffering and diminished quality of life, is less objective, the amount of compensation awarded in cases where a victim suffers long-term pain or permanent and significant changes in the his or her quality of life constitute a major component of many DUI accident settlements. When a skilled Atlanta DUI accident attorney communicates the significant extent to which the victim's life experiences have been adversely impacted by a motorist who drinks and drives, this will generally yield more extensive compensation for general damages.

Impact of Punitive Damages

Punitive damages differ from other forms of damages because the objective is not to compensate the victim but to punish and deter particularly unacceptable behavior. These damages can easily greatly exceed the compensatory damages for lost income, medical bills and vehicle damage. When punitive damages are awarded, they often will constitute the largest component of a damage award in a DUI crash accident claim. The prospect of punitive damages often can be used effectively during negotiations to persuade the insurance carrier to settle the claim rather than risk the threat of a substantial award of punitive damage award.

Contact the Experienced and Knowledable Accident Lawyers at Montlick and Associates For Your Free Consultation!

If you or your family member is injured by a drunk driver, our Georgia drunk driving accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates have been helping injury victims and their families for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.