Drinking and driving remains a serious problem in the United States, and drunk drivers account for a large portion of the deaths which occur every year after automobile accidents. If you are struck by a drunk driver in Louisiana, you are entitled to recover from the driver and his or her insurer all of your damages, such as physical pain and suffering, mental distress, lost wages, loss of wage earning capacity, medical expenses, loss of enjoyment of life, and any other damages, subject to the ability of the driver to pay and the policy limits of his or her insurance. If it can be proved that the negligent driver was also intoxicated and that the intoxication was a cause of the accident, then additional damages are due to the injured victim.
In Louisiana, these additional damages are granted by Louisiana Civil Code Article 2315.4, and the damages are referred to as “exemplary” damages. Just as “punitive” damages are to punish the offender, “exemplary” damages make an example of the drunken driver. Typically, one might expect a judge or jury to assess the total amount of damages suffered by the injured victim for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, etc., and then add additional damages of two or three times that amount. However, collecting punitive or exemplary damages can be challenging. Louisiana law also allows an automobile insurance company to exclude coverage for punitive damages, and virtually every insurer now does so. The damages are still due by the intoxicated driver, but the typical drunken driver is unable to pay the funds from his or her own assets. One advantage the injured victim does have is that the Federal Bankruptcy laws do not allow an intoxicated driver to discharge the debt for any injury he or she caused as part of a bankruptcy proceeding. Thus, drunken drivers will sometimes find a way to pay money to injured victims, especially if the drunken driver has a high-paying job that he or she does not want to leave, and the victim begins to garnish wages.
If you are injured because of an intoxicated or impaired driver, you should consult an experienced attorney. Gary P. Koederitz at Koederitz Law Firm has represented individuals injured in accidents for over thirty years, and he has filed lawsuits against numerous drunk drivers. Contact us at Koederitz Law Firm at (225) 295-9494 for a free consultation regarding any injuries you have sustained as the result of an accident caused by a drunken driver.