Drunk driving remains a nationwide concern, leading to countless accidents and significant injuries yearly. In Washington, accident victims have the right to pursue a claim for their injuries and other losses. Drunk driving accident monetary damages include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and more. If you or someone you love sustained injuries in a car accident with a drunk driver, contact a Seattle car accident lawyer right away.
At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC, we understand what a terrifying time this is for you and your family. You likely have a lot of questions about how to seek justice. Filing a claim for damages against the drunk driver differs from pending criminal charges. Any restitution awarded to you in that case does not preclude you from filing a civil lawsuit for financial compensation.
Types of Monetary Damages in Drunk Driving Accidents
Damages fall under two main types—economic or special damages and noneconomic or general damages.
Economic damages represent your financial losses. These losses have associated financial proof. One of the most immediate concerns for any accident victim is medical treatment. Victims can claim compensation for:
- Hospital stays,
- Surgery and other medical procedures,
- Diagnostic tests such as X-rays or MRIs,
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation,
- Prescription medications, and
- Future medical needs related to the accident.
The time you lose from work, whether it’s for doctors’ appointments or because you’re in too much pain, can also fall under your economic damages. If you cannot work temporarily or permanently, you can seek compensation for your lost income and loss of future earning capacity.
Property damage is also a part of your economic damages. Drunk driving accidents often result in severe vehicular damage. You might claim the cost of vehicle repairs, or the insurance company might declare your vehicle a total loss.
Noneconomic damages are those losses that have no accompanying financial losses. They are subjective and harder to calculate. Noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering might be the largest portion of your claim. Hiring a Washington car accident lawyer with experience handling drunk driving accidents is crucial.
Unlike tangible medical bills or repair costs, pain and suffering damages factor in the emotional and physical distress you suffered from the accident. Examples include:
- Physical pain,
- Emotional and psychological trauma, and
- Reduced quality of life.
Did the accident affect your relationship with your spouse or family? If so, you might have grounds for a loss of consortium claim. This is often a stand-alone claim in Washington, whereas some other states factor this into the overall settlement. Loss of consortium compensation includes loss of companionship, affection, or intimacy.
DUI Accident and Punitive Damages
Another prominent distinction in Washington law is the lack of punitive damages in a drunk driving accident. In most other states, you can request the court award punitive damages in a drunk driving accident claim. Punitive damages serve to punish the offender and deter similar future behavior. They are awarded over and above compensatory damages, specifically when the defendant’s actions are egregious or malicious. Drunk driving is one of the common triggers for a punitive damages award.
However, under Washington law, victims cannot claim punitive damages in a drunk driving accident. The state believes that compensatory damages, which aim to make the victim “whole” again, are sufficient. DUI offenders still face criminal penalties, including hefty fines and jail time, serving as punishment and deterrence.
Monetary Damages in Drunk Driving Accidents: Building a Strong Case
Even though the other driver may have been drinking, you must prove they are liable for your injuries. Building a solid case with ample evidence can help you recover the maximum compensation possible. Here are some helpful things to keep in mind after an accident.
- Seek immediate medical attention. Even if you believe you’re not hurt, seek medical attention immediately after the accident. Some injuries may not be evident at first but could manifest later.
- Document the scene. If you can do so safely, get photos at the scene of the vehicle damage, skid marks, debris, and anything else you think is essential for your claim.
- Keep everything. Keep every bill, receipt, and record related to the accident. Keep medical records, therapy session notes, prescription receipts, and other associated expenses.
- Get witness statements. Did someone witness the accident? Obtaining their contact information as a statement will be important evidence during the claims process.
Lastly, hire an attorney early on. Don’t let the other driver’s insurance company persuade you not to speak with a lawyer. The insurance company is looking out for their bottom line, not your well-being.
Contact a Washington Car Accident Lawyer
If you need assistance understanding how to pursue drunk driving accident monetary damages, contact Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC. We have decades of experience representing injured victims of DUI-related accidents.
Our lawyers are committed to providing you with the legal advocacy and support you need during this challenging time. We understand the nuances of drunk driving accident claims and will help you fight for the maximum compensation for your losses. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation to learn more.