Punitive Damages for Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents in Oregon

Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on Oct 25, 2019 in Auto Accident

Hands holding a drink and car keysPunitive damages are rarely awarded in personal injury cases. These damages only apply to cases where the party that caused the injury showed extreme negligence. Drunk driving may be an example of this level of negligence.  

Below, our Portland car accident attorneys discuss punitive damages in cases involving drunk driving. If you were injured by a drunk driver, you may be eligible to seek many forms of compensation, including punitive damages. Schedule a completely free, no obligation consultation with Rizk Law today to discuss your claim.

What Does Oregon Law Say About Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are intended as punishment for the defendant for his or her actions. The goal of awarding these damages is to deter others from similar behavior in the future. Unlike other forms of compensation in personal injury cases, punitive damages are not tied to any specific loss suffered by the victim.  

Oregon Revised Statutes 31.730 says punitive damages may only be awarded in civil cases when there is clear and convincing evidence the defendant acted recklessly and with malice, along with displaying an outrageous indifference to the unreasonable risk of harm for the wellbeing, health and safety of others.

Insurance companies rarely cover punitive damages, even in situations where there was criminal behavior.

If an Oregon jury awards these damages, 60 percent will be paid to the Department of Justice Crime Victim’s Assistant section and allocated to victim’s assistance payments for those who have been impacted by a crime. Another 10 percent of the award is payable to the Attorney General. Victims receive 30 percent of the punitive damages, and the victim’s attorney can only take up to 20 percent of that for legal fees.

Types of Conduct That May Allow Victims to Pursue Punitive Damages

Plaintiffs are only allowed to bring claims for punitive damages under certain conditions. Typically for punitive damages to be awarded, the defendant’s actions must have been outside of the bounds of socially accepted behavior. There also must be evidence of the defendant’s egregious actions.

Punitive damages may be sought in situations that involve criminal behavior, as criminal actions are not socially accepted. A prime example of this type of criminal behavior is drunk driving. Injury victims may also be eligible for punitive damages in cases of assault or battery.

Benefits of Having an Attorney for This Type of Claim

Pursuing punitive damages is a complicated process. After the initial pleading for your claim, you must file a motion to amend. This filing must include specific documentation that supports your request for punitive damages.

This is why it is generally recommended you have trusted legal representation. At Rizk Law, we are well-versed in Oregon laws and processes related to punitive damages.

There are several advantages to having an experienced attorney on your side for a punitive damages claim. If you hire our attorneys, we can:

  • Investigate the accident thoroughly
  • Gather clear evidence to help us build a strong case against a drunk driver
  • Ensure filing deadlines are met
  • Advocate for your best interests each step of the way
  • Keep you well-informed and up-to-date on your claim

Seek Legal Help Today by Setting Up a Free Consultation

Our experienced car accident lawyers help families seek justice for injuries caused by the negligence of a drunk driver. If you sustained injuries in a drunk driving car accident, you may be eligible for compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, and possibly punitive damages.

Request your free, no obligation consultation with one of our today and learn what legal options may be available to you. There are no upfront fees to pay because we operate on contingency and are only paid if we successfully recover compensation on your behalf.