If you were hurt in a motor-vehicle accident that another driver caused, then you may be entitled to various damages including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In some personal-injury lawsuits, the plaintiff has a right to claim punitive damages, which are intended to punish the defendant and to prevent others from committing similar offenses.
Punitive damages are not recoverable in all injury lawsuits. As outlined by New Mexico Uniform Jury Instruction 13-1827, you have a right to claim punitive damages if the driver who caused your injuries acted with malicious, willful, reckless or wonton conduct. A driver who consumes alcohol knowing that he or she will drive is certainly acting recklessly, which means that as the victim of a drunk-driving accident, you have a right to claim punitive damages.
If you were injured by a drunk driver in New Mexico, an accident attorney from The Law Office of Brian K. Branch will calculate your damages and help you recover the maximum compensation. We have been representing the injured for a combined 32 years. Call 505-207-4401 to schedule a free consultation with a personal-injury lawyer in Albuquerque.
4 Important Terms You Will Encounter during the Claims Process
You might feel overwhelmed by the complicated legalese related to personal-injury claims and lawsuits. The challenge of navigating tort laws is one of many reasons why you should hire an accident attorney to represent your interests.
Here are the definitions of a few terms you may encounter if you claim punitive damages from the at-fault driver:
- Willful Conduct: Intentionally committing an act that the offender knows could cause harm to others;
- Malicious Conduct: Intentionally committing a wrongful act that the offender knows is wrongful;
- Wanton Conduct: Committing an act with conscious disregard for or indifference toward a person’s safety or rights; and
- Reckless Conduct: Committing an act with indifference to the consequences.
Can I Sue If I Was a Passenger in a Drunk-Driving Accident?
Yes. Even if your driver caused the accident, you may be entitled to compensation. If your driver does not have insurance or the means to cover your losses, you may still be able to recover compensation from your underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage. Also, the dram shop or person who served the at-fault driver might be liable for damages under dram shop and social host laws.
Important Evidence in Drunk-Driving Accident Claims
Even if it is clear who was at fault for your accident, recovering fair compensation is rarely a straightforward process. Your personal-injury lawyer will strengthen your claim by gathering the necessary evidence to prove negligence, liability and the value of your damages. This may include:
- The accident report;
- Toxicology reports;
- Medical records;
- Pay stubs;
- Timelines and illustrations;
- Pictures of the crash scene;
- Testimonies from eyewitness;
- Testimonies from accident reconstruction experts; and
- Testimonies from financial and medical experts.
If you were injured by a drunk driver, contact The Law Office of Brian K. Branch to discuss your claim in a free case evaluation. Call 505-207-4401 to arrange a consultation with a personal-injury lawyer in Albuquerque, New Mexico.