Drunk Driving Accidents - DWI / DUI
Louisiana law will permit, in certain circumstances, the victim of an accident caused by drunk drivers to obtain punitive damages. Punitive damages are damages that may be awarded to a victim of a drunk driver by a judge or jury, in addition to other costs, to make the victim whole for problems such as mental and physical anguish, loss of consortium, loss of ability to work, etc. Louisiana Civil Code article 2315.4 holds the key for punitive damages to be recovered. It states “in addition to general and special damages, exemplary damages may be awarded upon proof that the injuries on which the action is based were caused by a wanton and reckless disregard for the rights and safety of others by a defendant whose intoxication while operating a motor vehicle was a cause in fact of the resulting injuries.”
Louisiana law lays out three necessary elements that must be proven in order to obtain damages: 1) that the driver was intoxicated or had consumed a sufficient quantity of intoxicants to make him lose control of his mental or physical faculties, 2) that the intoxication was a cause in fact of the resulting injuries, and 3) that the injuries were caused by the driver’s wanton and reckless disregard for the rights and safety of others. The victim does not need to prove that the driver was legally intoxicated. It will be sufficient to prove that the driver’s mental or physical abilities have been impaired by the intoxicant. In addition to proving intoxication, the injured party must prove that the driver’s intoxication was a cause in fact of the resulting injuries to be awarded punitive damages. A victim need only show that the intoxication was a cause of his injuries and not necessarily the only cause; therefore, even where intoxication is only one of several causes of an accident the court may still award damages. For the final element to be satisfied it must be proven that the driver acted in a ‘wanton and reckless’ disregard for the rights and safety of others. The courts have not come up with a precise definition of ‘wanton and reckless.’ This is a highly subjective test. The court held in Bourgeois v. State Farm that simple proof that a person was driving under the influence of alcohol and that he might have been impaired, by itself, will not always be sufficient to establish the “wanton and reckless” element. The facts and circumstances of each case-including, but not limited to, the driver's blood alcohol level, evidence of the effect of the alcohol on the specific driver, and the consequences of the alcohol consumption-must be considered in determining the necessary “wanton and reckless” element. A skilled trial attorney is the best means to prove the elements mentioned here.
It is very important at the scene of the accident or before the accident, if possible, to keep an eye on the other driver to look for signs of intoxication. Intoxication can come from a various amount of items such as alcohol, illegal or legal prescriptions drugs, illegal drugs, or anything else that may impair the driver of the vehicle. Signs of intoxication are slurred speech, flushed face, swaying, and red or blood shot eyes. Also, if being interviewed by police officers at the scene of the accident make sure to tell the officers if you witnessed the other driver swerving, driving erratically, or drifting in and out of lanes before you were hit. Drunk driving is a serious offense with many consequences. It may come into play if you are hit by a drunk driver to determine fault and who is ultimately liable. It is always important to know your surroundings, and see if the other driver is acting suspiciously or erratically.
The Cardone Law Firm represents victims of drunk driving accidents in the entire state of Louisiana including Ascension Parish, Donaldsonville, Assumption Parish, Napoleonville, Baton Rouge, Jefferson Parish, Estelle, Gretna, Harvey, Kenner, Marrero, Metairie, New Orleans, Terrytown, Westwego, Lafayette Parish, Lafourche Parish, Thibodaux, Livingston Parish, Orleans Parish, Plaquemines Parish, Belle Chasse, and St. Charles Parish.
Because a drunk driving accident can create multiple issues and significant losses, an injured party should hire an experienced New Orleans attorney who not only handles these types of car accidents and consequential injuries, but also has the resources necessary to pay for an injured person’s medical needs as well as the hiring of experts from a variety of fields in order to increase the value of the case. Cliff Cardone has practiced law nearly 40 years and has primarily handled personal-injury matters. If you have been injured in a car accident, Phone Cardone at 1-504-522-3333 for a free in person consultation. He is direct, insightful, proactive, and passionate about his client’s cases.