Punitive Damages After Being Injured by a Drunk Driver

Written by Greg on November 2, 2015
punitive damages in Texas after being hit by a drunk driver

Are punitive damages available after a DWI accident in Texas?

 

If you’ve been hit by a drunk driver and were injured, if the drunk driver had insurance coverage, the insurance company will most likely attempt an early settlement with you to avoid paying your full damages.  One reason the adjusters try to act early is the concern about punitive damages. While the case law in Texas is not clear regarding insurance coverage for punitive damage lawsuits, our punitive damage lawyers have been successful in collecting some huge settlements.

In Texas, punitive damages (which are really punishment damages) are also called “exemplary damages”.  The state of Texas has restricted the application of exemplary damages and also placed limits on the amount that is recoverable as punitive damages in the state. 

Punitive Damages Law in Texas

The application of exemplary damages in a personal injury case comes from Civil Practice And Remedies Code Section 41.

That statute makes clear that the law applies to any action in which a claimant seeks damages relating to a cause of action. This includes personal injury claims stemming from a drunk driving accident.

Exemplary damages in Texas are very tough to obtain and require a higher standard of proof than actual damages which are things like pain and suffering or medical expenses. Because drunk driving or DWI accidents involve an extreme degree of risk to the public a court can find the conduct of the intoxicated driver amounts to gross negligence as required for punitive damages to apply. The claimant must prove the elements of exemplary damages by clear and convincing evidence. 

Likewise, the statute has made it more difficult to obtain punishment damages by requiring a unanimous verdict on the exemplary damage question. The statute also limits the number of damages that are recoverable under Section 41.

Because the drinking driver engages in such dangerous behavior, many juries have found that substantial exemplary damages were appropriate for the victim. The defendant has the option of bifurcating the trial and submitting the exemplary damage question in the second half of the case. This allows a jury to determine liability and actual damages separate from punitive or punishment damages. 

Speak with a Lawyer

If you have been injured by a drunk driver and have questions regarding the claim handling process, actual damages, or punitive damages, call a drunk dring accident lawyer in Houston at the Baumgartner Law Firm for a no-obligation consultation regarding your rights and options at 281-587-1111. 

We will do our best to answer your questions and help you in any way we can.

 

Baumgartner Law Firm

6711 Cypress Creek Pkwy
Houston, Texas 77069

Phone: 281 587-1111

 

 

Posted Under: DWI/DUI
Tags:

Giving Back to The Community

We are committed to supporting our community
Baumgartner Scholarship
See All Practice Areas Meet Attorney Greg Baumgartner See Previous Case Results Read Client Reviews & Testimonials Read Our Blog Contact Us