Complex issues regarding drunk driving injury claims

On Behalf of | Mar 16, 2024 | Personal Injury |

If you’re driving along a Ohio roadway and another vehicle hits you, you’re entitled to seek financial recovery to compensate for damages. Such damages often include medical bills associated with treatment of physical injuries, loss of wages due to time off work during recovery and emotional pain and suffering. When the cause of injury is a drunk driving accident, complex issues may arise.

Every state has its own laws regarding personal injury claims. In some states, you can seek punitive damages following a drunk driving collision. Punitive damages are awarded to a plaintiff beyond the basic compensation allowed by law. Such damages are awarded to a recovering accident victim as a means of punishment against a defendant for egregious behavior.

What does Ohio law say about punitive damages in an injury claim?

If you plan to seek punitive damages following a drunk driving collision in Ohio, you are tasked (as the plaintiff) to prove certain things. A primary element that must have been present when the collision occurred is malicious intent. This is a complex term regarding personal injury claims, however, and specifically, drunk driving accident claims.

When you think of the word “malice,” you might think of actions compelled by evil or hatred. However, in a personal injury claim against a drunk driver, malicious intent carries a slightly different meaning. In such cases, you must convince the court that the defendant was aware that driving after drinking alcohol could pose a safety risk to others. You must prove that the defendant did not try to prevent the collision—in other words, he or she acted maliciously by doing something known to be potentially harmful to others. This will be key, since Ohio’s rules about seeking punitive damages are quite strict. There is precedent of courts awarding punitive damages in drunk driving accident cases, but it is important to note that it depends heavily on the details of the case – and the measure of the drunk driver’s negligence and malicious intent.

Gathering evidence is the key to success

When you take a personal injury claim to court in Ohio, the judge or jury will expect you to substantiate your claim. Therefore, it is always best to obtain support to help you gather all the evidence you need. You might even wish to obtain witness testimony, such as someone who saw the defendant in an inebriated state before getting into a vehicle to drive.

The amount of a punitive damage award varies in each case, and such awards can be difficult to obtain. A judge takes several issues into consideration, such as the severity of your injuries, gravity of the offense, such as a repeat drunk driver and the financial status of the defendant. When the court awards punitive damages in a drunk driving injury claim, it hopes to deter a recurrence.