The holidays are a wonderful time of year for gathering with family and friends. The holidays are also, regrettably, a time of increased incidences of people drinking and driving. If you or a loved one is injured by a drunk driver, it is important to understand what the law allows you to do, and what steps you should take.
Recent accidents in Calcasieu and Washington parishes highlight the risks, and potentially tragic consequences, of driving while intoxicated. When someone is injured in Louisiana as a result of another’s drunk driving, that person is entitled to recover for the damages caused by the drunk driver. Article 2315 of the Louisiana Civil Code generally provides a right to sue for damages, and Article 2315.4 specifically adds a right to seek exemplary damages in cases where the injured person proves that the driver acted with “wanton or reckless disregard for the rights and safety of others.”
You may be unfamiliar with the term “exemplary damages,” but may recognize them as “punitive” damages. Injured persons rarely recover exemplary damages in auto accident actions, except in cases involving drunk drivers. To succeed in receiving exemplary damages, you must show that the driver, in deciding to get behind the wheel in an impaired state, acted with conscious indifference to the consequences of his or her actions. This means that he or she knew or should have known that getting behind the wheel would likely lead to harm, but proceeded to drive anyway.
Even if you are partially at fault in the accident, this should not deter you from contacting a Louisiana attorney and pursuing your case. Louisiana follows a system of comparative negligence, which means that, as long as the drunk driver was more responsible than you for the accident, you may still recover. As an example, if you were injured in an accident with a drunk driver and suffered $2 million of actual damages, but were 25% at fault for the wreck. Louisiana would still permit you to recover your damages, reduced proportionately by your degree of fault, meaning you’d receive $1.5 million, or 75% of your total actual damages.
Additionally, it is important to remember that Louisiana has no version of what’s called a “Dram Shop” law. This means that, if you’re injured by a drunk driver, you may seek recovery from the driver, but you probably cannot recover from the person or establishment who served the alcohol to that driver.
The elements involved in pursuing a civil damages claim against a drunk driver are numerous and varied, potentially involving two different types of damages and disproving your own fault for the accident. Each aspect requires careful attention to each aspect of the case’s facts, the proof needed and Louisiana law. To inquire about your potential case against a drunk driver, contact the Louisiana injury attorneys at the Cardone Law Firm right away, so that we may begin helping you. We have a proven track record helping injured persons like you in obtaining the recovery you deserve.
For your confidential consultation contact us online or phone Cardone at 504-522-3333.
More Blog Posts:
Driving with Distractions – Louisiana Texting Negligence, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, May 9, 2013
Understanding Louisiana Uninsured Motorist Insurance, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, March 26, 2013