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How punitive damages are awarded for LA drunk driving accidents


Car accidents injure many people and claim numerous lives in Louisiana and across the country every year. Despite the various efforts of state and legal authorities, auto accidents remain a sad reality. Probably, the most regrettable kind of accident is a drunk driving accident because a drunk driver's negligence obviously caused the victim's agony.

Louisiana laws have provisions that provide victims of drunk driving accidents the opportunity to obtain punitive damages, in addition to compensation for damages. Punitive damage laws and their implementation because of an intoxicated driver can be found in Article 2315.4 of the Louisiana Civil Code. According to this article, a court may order a party liable for the accident to pay additional damages. However, the court can do this only if it is found that the accident was a direct result of intoxication, and that driver's irresponsibility and disregard toward other people's safety resulted in the accident.

Historically speaking, Louisiana courts have ordered liable parties to pay exemplary damages in a number of cases. In order to clarify its stand, the state's courts have enumerated the types of proof needed to prove intoxication. For example, in a particular case, the court held that breathalyzer test results, blood alcohol test results, the odor of alcohol, inability to maintain bodily balance and slurred speech could all be considered proof of intoxication.

Moreover, to prove intoxication, actions, such as failure to obey traffic rules, inexplicable behavior and causing a drunk driving accident, are also sufficient reasons for a court to issue a decision about awarding exemplary damages. If circumstances and investigative reports suggest that alcohol was a factor in the accident's cause, it may be a wise decision on the victim's part to retain an experienced personal injury attorney. The attorney can help highlight such negligence in court and obtain a rightful compensation on behalf of the drunk driving accident victim.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Driving While Intoxicated; A Formula for Punitive Damages," accessed on June 11, 2015

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