Although you can be hit by a drunk driver any time of day, any day of the year, certain holidays come with an increased risk. St. Patrick’s Day is the third most popular drinking holiday and 62% of fatal St. Patrick’s Day accidents involved a drunk driver in 2018, according to WalletHub. Drunk driving accident claims are more complex than regular auto accidents. You be allowed to pursue punitive damages, and, in some cases, it is appropriate to pursue a third-party liability case against the bar or social host who provided the alcohol to the drunk driver. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident, you need the help of an experienced Oregon drunk driving accident attorney.
Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuits are Civil Not Criminal Cases
If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident, you need justice. Your drunk driving lawsuit will be separate from any criminal proceedings against the driver. Although the driver can be held criminally responsible, the criminal conviction does not help you with your medical expenses, lost income and other losses. To receive compensation, you must pursue a civil claim.
You can receive compensation for your accident injuries or the loss of a loved one, whether or not the drunk driver is convicted criminally. A conviction can support your case but is not necessary for you to win.
Punitive damages are rarely available in auto accident cases, in Oregon, but are sometimes available in drunk driving cases. Claims for punitive damages are more complicated than your compensation claim. Punitive damages are meant to punish the wrongdoer rather than to compensate the accident victim. After you file your accident lawsuit, you must file a motion for inclusion of a claim for punitive damages. With that motion, you must include evidence to prove that the conduct was bad enough to warrant punitive damages.
If you win punitive damages, the State of Oregon receives 60% of the punitive damages. Those funds go into the state’s crime victims fund. 10% of your punitive damages go to the Oregon Attorney General for deposit in the State Court Facilities and Security Account. As the plaintiff, you receive the remaining 30% minus attorney’s fees which can be no more than 20% of the award.
Third Party Liability
In some cases, in Oregon, you can also pursue a claim against the bar, establishment or social host who served the drunk driver. Third party liability only applies if the establishment or host served a visibly intoxicated person or a minor.
If you were injured by a drunk driver in Oregon, the Law Office of J. Clay McCaslin is here to help you and your family get the compensation you deserve. Give us a call at 503-239-1910 or contact us online today.