Punitive Damages in South Carolina Drunk Driving Accident Cases
After suffering injuries because of a drunk driver in South Carolina, the law allows you to pursue compensation from the drunk driver. In South Carolina drunk driving accident cases, the most commonly awarded damages are economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include medical expenses, lost wages, and property repairs, while non-economic damages include mental anguish, pain, and suffering. Economic and non-economic damages fall under one category of damages known as compensatory damages. Another type of damages that may be available in your SC drunk driving accident case is punitive damages. While you are guaranteed to recover compensatory damages in your South Carolina drunk driving accident case, you are not guaranteed to recover punitive damages. This is because, while compensatory damages are meant to make you “whole” again, punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant and prevent similar behavior in the future. Keep reading to learn about punitive damages in South Carolina drunk driving accident cases.
Punitive Damages After a South Carolina Drunk Driving Accident
As already mentioned, punitive damages are not awarded in all South Carolina drunk driving accident cases. This is because these damages are meant to punish the drunk driver and use them as an example to prevent others from committing the same offense. Usually, a personal injury case is about compensating a victim for their injuries and losses and not punishing the defendant.
So, when are punitive damages awarded in a South Carolina drunk driving case? You may be eligible to recover punitive damages in your South Carolina drunk driving case if the defendant was grossly negligent, reckless, or willful in causing you harm.
When deciding whether you are entitled to punitive damages, the court will consider several factors, including the following;
- The drunk driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level at the time of the accident
- Whether the defendant was solely to blame for the accident
- The severity of your injuries
- Whether the defendant has any prior drunk driving convictions
It is vital to note that if you are entitled to punitive damages, you must specifically request them in your claim or lawsuit. Additionally, you must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the driver was reckless or grossly negligent in causing your accident.
Caps on Punitive Damages in South Carolina
Damage caps are limits on the maximum amount of damages that can be awarded to a personal injury victim. In South Carolina personal injury cases, punitive damages are limited to the greater of $500,000 or three times the compensatory damages awarded. So, if, for example, you get $200,000 in compensatory damages, the most you can get in punitive damages is $600,000 (200,000 x 3). However, although punitive damages have been capped for most personal injury cases, according to South Carolina law, there is no cap on punitive damages in drunk driving accident cases.
Recovering punitive damages after a South Carolina drunk driving accident can be challenging. You require strong evidence and a compelling argument. Therefore, it is vital that you retain a qualified attorney if you believe you are entitled to punitive damages.
Contact a Charleston Drunk Driver Accident Lawyer
If you’ve suffered injuries in a South Carolina drunk driving accident and need help recovering the compensation you deserve, contact our skilled Charleston drunk driver accident lawyer at Gus Anastopoulo Law Firm.