Personal Injury Video Law Tip
“In the state of Florida, the law recognizes drunk driving accidents as an accident where bad behavior or a reckless behavior was involved. In Florida, one of the few times that the law allows you to plead punitive damages after asking the court if you can do so, is when drunk driving is involved. There are very few times where the only record evidence that you have to show a court to plea punitive damages is when there is drunk driving involved and punitive damages are punishment damages, they’re an award that the jury can award to punish someone’s bad behavior and drunk driving is one of those types of situations.” – Dena Sisk Foman
Additional Information about How DUI accident injury cases are different from regular car accident lawsuits?
Drunk driving accidents can increase the value of a case. However, most insurance policies exclude punitive damages which result from drunk driving.
In Florida, a party can plead punitive damages with court approval with record evidence of DUI. This is usually done by providing the police report which shows a citiation for DUI, blood results and occasionally admissions by a party that they had a mind altering substance in their body before an accident took place. If punitive damages are allowed to be pled, the pleader can ask the jury to award a sum of money to punish the bad behavior of driving while drinking. This money is not tied to the damages or injuries which means the jury can place any value on it they wish.
While insurance companies typically exclude this type of damage from an insurance policy, it is a tool that is used to increase the value of the case. It is a way for the jury to hear about the DUI in cases where a drunk party admits that they caused an accident. In most cases, where fault is admitted, the actions of the party before or during the accident become irrelevant when they are not fighting fault, but irrespective of an admission of fault, a jury will hear that alcohol was involved where punitive damages are concerned and insurance companies know that this can increase the value of other covered losses, like pain and suffering damages.
There are limited circumstances where insurance policies do cover punitives. You may recall the case of Mr. Goodman, the polo player in Wellington, Florida, that killed a man while driving under the influence. In that case, the insurance policy was an out of state policy and did cover punitive damages, but this is the exception, not the rule. Even if insurance does not cover punitive damages, the party that is being sued can have a judgment entered against them for the amount of the punitive award.
Personal injury law video number 100032: How are DUI accident injury cases different from regular car accident lawsuits?