Several consumers have called asking what is the law in Georgia if you are hit by a drunk driver? They have heard of punitive damages, but are not really sure what they are. Our firm sent out a demand on Monday on a DUI case that is illustrative of how these cases differ from the standard case.
The drunk driver in our case blew a .19 for his blood alcohol content after he drove the wrong way down a street and hit our client head on. The client had $24,000 in medical bills from the emergency room alone and spent 3 months in physical therapy recovering from spinal strains and from a concussion. His medical care finished up two weeks ago and we received the medical records last week. .
The next question is, what is a case with a drunk driver worth? There are two general types of damages that can be sought in a case like this; compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages include the gross total of the medical bills plus his lost wages, which in this case come to just over $31,000.00. They also include any award for pain and suffering which is to be decided by a jury. There is no mathematical formula by which you determine suffering. Punitive damages are punishment damages to punish the drunk driver for their behavior that put others at risk and unless the insurance policy for the drunk driver excludes the coverage, in Georgia DUI cases, punitive damages are unlimited.
The insurance policy for the drunk driver has $250,000.00 in liability coverage. Although some Georgia insurance companies like Geico, Grange and Safeway exclude punitive damages. Liberty Mutual issued this driver’s policy so they are not excluded. In Georgia an insurance policy excluding punitive damages is legal so be sure to read their policy carefully.
Turning back to the evaluation of our case; if this case did not involve alcohol we would take into account the fact that the ER bill was extremely high due to a number of CT scans. The venue where the case is brought is conservative and there is no permanent injury. In a case like that, a jury verdict would likely range between $50,000 and $75,000.
This case did involve a DUI though and that changes things drastically. In a case where the defendant driver repents, has no history of other DUI infractions and is likeable and fully accepts blame, some of the sting will be blunted in front of the jury. A value range in that case would be $100,000- $150,000.00
In this case though we scoured the court records and learned that the drunk driver has a record of DUI and possession of Marijuana two years prior in Roswell, Georgia. This evidence shows that he has not learned his lesson and drives without care for his fellow man. As a result this case is now a policy limits case and we have demanded the full $250,000.00 policy limits.
I hope this article helps to explain how various facts play into the analysis of cases where people are hit by drunk drivers in Georgia. If you have questions for a lawyer who takes cases against drunk drivers in Georgia, please contact us. Please understand that no attorney client relationship is created by participation in this blog.