Punitive Damages in Baton Rouge Truck Accidents
In a typical motor vehicle accident, the options for recovery for a Baton Rouge truck accident attorney are limited to certain types of damages. Louisiana law allows an injured party to be compensated for their special damages (damages that have a definite cost such as medical bills and lost wages) and general damages (areas of damage that generally have no fixed cost such as pain and suffering). However, the Louisiana legislature allows for one additional category of recovery, punitive damages, in very limited situations. One such situation is in the case of an intoxicated or drunk driver.
It is without question that drunk driving is a problem in the United States and especially in Louisiana. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, 10,076 people were killed in accidents where the driver had a blood alcohol content of over .08, which represented 31% of all traffic-related death in the United States. In Louisiana alone, 234 of the 703 traffic fatalities saw drivers over the legal limit for alcohol (33%).
These deaths are completely avoidable and inexcusable, which is the exact reason why Louisiana has enacted punitive damages, which are designed to punish indefensible behavior in an effort to discourage its occurrence again in the future. Louisiana Civil Code article 2315.4 provides that punitive damages may be awarded “upon proof that the injuries on which the action is based were caused by a wanton or 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.” In other words, if an at-fault driver is found to be intoxicated at the time of the accident and that the accident would not have occurred but for his intoxication, a skilled Baton Rouge truck accident attorney will be able to recover punitive damages in excess of the damages that you have actually suffered due to your accident.
An unfortunate example of this exact situation occurred last week, where an 18-wheeler barreled through a turn at an incredibly high speed, plowing into a motorcycle rider and ending up in a ditch. The driver of the truck, 56 year old Timothy Duimstra of Hudsonville, Michigan was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the accident and police believe that he passed out behind the wheel before veering off the road. His only words to the officer were “I messed up.” He was charged with first-degree negligent injury, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, and driving while intoxicated.
The horrific scene was caught on surveillance video at a nearby business, and vividly shows the extreme damage that can be caused when someone gets behind the wheel under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Situations like this one are exactly why the legislature has reserved punitive damages for those that get behind the wheel drunk. It also demonstrates the importance of retaining an experienced Baton Rouge truck accident attorney to represent you should this unfortunately occur. The attorneys at Fisher Injury Lawyers have a wealth of experience in large truck accidents, having represented many clients across the country in cases similar to this one. Give us a call or email today if you or a loved one has been injured due to the actions of a drunk driver.
Baton Rouge Truck Accident Attorney