The Help You Need After An Accident

Punitive damages in drunk driving cases

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Fatal drunk driving accidents are tragedies that are difficult to understand. Aside from the shock of losing a loved one with no warning, a family will almost inevitably ask why someone would ever think it is OK to drive drunk.  After all, there have been decades of public service announcements and law enforcement campaigns designed to stop this irresponsible behavior.

A family will no doubt want to pursue the driver for costs like funeral expenses, final medical bills and lost wages, but even recovering these and one’s non-economic losses might seem like hardly enough after such a serious violation of basic decency.

As is the case with most other states, Ohio allows plaintiffs to ask for punitive damages, which are also called exemplary damages, after a fatal car accident. Not every case is going to be eligible for punitive damages. The law only allows these damages in extreme cases, where a person acted in a very reckless and irresponsible way and caused an accident. To give one example, a drunk driver who kills an innocent third party in a street race may be liable for punitive damages.

Other parties may be liable for the behavior of a drunk driver

Additionally, in Ohio, people and businesses who serve drunk drivers alcoholic beverages may in some circumstances be liable for the drunk driver’s fatal accident.

For example, a restaurant or bar which has the habit of serving alcohol to people under 21 years old or not checking identification before serving drinks may face liability if a young person gets intoxicated and then causes a motor vehicle accident as a result.

Likewise, establishments are not supposed to serve people who are noticeably drunk. If they do, then they might have to pay compensation to their patron’s car accident victims.

Even though it seems so obvious that people should not drive drunk, collecting compensation can still be difficult. There are a number of legal options available to victims and their families.