They left the restaurant and on the drive home were hit head on by a drunk driver who had crossed the median into their lane of travel. Their vehicle was totaled, and they were hurt.
We immediately sent out Open Records Requests and obtained Body Cam footage from the attending police officer. The footage contained the interview with the drunk driver where he confessed to “drinking 6, 7, 8 or 9 beers and was coming from a bar”. We then obtained the criminal documents charging him with DUI and Failure to Maintain Lane.
We then ran a background check on the drunk driver and found the following criminal history:
- Arrest for Underage Possession of Alcohol (2016)
- Arrest for Underage Possession of Alcohol (2017)
- Arrest for DUI (2017)
We got a copy of his Mug Shot and found other ‘non flattering’ pictures on his public social media accounts. We sent this information to his insurance company in a highly organized and straight forward settlement package.
While our client was certainly hurt, at this point, our strategy to obtain a heightened case value centered completely around the drunk driver and how bad of a presentation he would make in front of a jury.
In addition to our client’s injury claim, we made a demand for ‘punitive damages’ to punish the drunk driver and deter him for similar future contact.
Punitive damages are defined in O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1 as,
- As used in this Code section, the term “punitive damages” is synonymous with the terms “vindictive damages,” “exemplary damages,” and other descriptions of additional damages awarded because of aggravating circumstances in order to penalize, punish, or deter a defendant.(c) Punitive damages shall be awarded not as compensation to a plaintiff but solely to punish, penalize, or deter a defendant.
(f) In a tort case in which the cause of action does not arise from product liability …….. that the defendant acted or failed to act while under the influence of alcohol, drugs other than lawfully prescribed drugs administered in accordance with prescription …… there shall be no limitation regarding the amount which may be awarded as punitive damages.
The main takeaway there is section (f) – if alcohol is involved, there is NO CAP on how much punitive damages can be awarded. Meaning, there is literally no number too big for a jury to decide to award our client to punish the drunk driver.
We also pled for the expenses of litigation under O.C.G.A. § 13-6-11 based on the bad faith actions by the drunk driver.
Finally, we made an Unliquidated Damages Demand under O.C.G.A. § 51-12-14.
In total, there was $350,000 in insurance money available to our client. This was insurance from the drunk driver, insurance from his parents and insurance on the vehicle. The extent of our client’s injuries really did not matter any longer in making our demand – the only settlement we would recommend would be the full limits of any all possible insurance coverage.
Sufficed it to say, our client recovered the full $350,000.