Possibly. Unlike compensatory damages related to most civil claims, a lawsuit seeking punitive damages is intended to actually punish the responsible party and deter misconduct. Kemner v. Monsanto Co., 1991 Ill. App. LEXIS 985 (Ill. App. Ct. 5th Dist. June 11, 1991). Typically, punitive damages are awarded in DUI cases where the at-fault driver's misconduct rises at least to the level of recklessness, or above ordinary negligence. In Illinois, a lawsuit seeking punitive damages requires leave of court (permission from the judge) before such damages may be sought from the at fault driver.
Further, compensatory damages must be awarded before punitive damages may be awarded. 735 ILCS 5/2-1115.05. Finally, punitive damages may not exceed three times the amount of the economic damages. 735 ILCS 5/2-1115.05.
Pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/2-604.1, a court shall allow a motion to amend the complaint to include a prayer for punitive damages if the injured party (plaintiff) can establish at hearing that there are reasonable facts they could present at trial to support such a claim. The Illinois Supreme Court has further refined this standard for pursuing punitive damages in tort case when it ruled in Kelsay v. Motorola, 72 Ill.2d 172, 186 (Ill. 1978). “It has long been established in this state that punitive or exemplary damages may be awarded when torts are committed with fraud, malice, deliberate violence or oppression or when the defendant acts with such gross negligence as to indicate a wanton disregard of the rights of others.”
Illinois Courts have held that evidence of intoxication at the time of an auto accident was sufficient to submit to a jury in relation to an allegation of willful and wanton conduct. See Coleman v. Williams, 42 Ill.App.3d 162 (2nd Dist. 1976).
Attorneys With Experience Representing People Injured or Killed in Illinois Drunk Driving Accidents
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC we appreciate the impact a drunk driving accident has on accident victims. Our office is committed to holding irresponsible drivers fully accountable for their acts. Our law firm regularly files civil lawsuits on behalf of individuals and their families to obtain the compensation that Illinois law provides for people injured in DUI accidents. If you or a loved one was injured in a DUI accident, we invite you to call or meet with one of our attorneys for a free review of your case and your legal options for financial recovery.
For additional information see the following pages:
- Do I need to give a statement to an insurance company following an auto accident where I was injured?
- How long do you have to file a lawsuit for personal injuries related to a car accident arising in Chicago, IL?
- How long does it take to settle an Illinois car accident case involving injuries?
- How much does it cost to hire a lawyer to represent me in a personal injury case arising out of an Illinois auto accident?
- I don't understand why my car insurance needs to pay for injuries I sustained when another person caused the accident
- I was told the driver of the vehicle I was involved in an accident with had full coverage. What does that mean?
- I was unable to work for several months following my car accident; can I recover my lost wages?
- If the car was owned by a company, is the company responsible for paying my personal injuries?
- Is car insurance mandatory for drivers in Illinois?
- My health insurance company said they have subrogation rights related to my auto accident case. What does that mean?
- Can I pursue a claim on behalf of my son against my husband?
- My surgeon wants to put a lien on my car accident case. What is he doing?
- The driver I was involved in an accident with pleaded guilty in traffic court. What does that mean?
- What type of monetary damages does the law provide for in automobile accident cases in IL?
- Why is the car insurance company denying my claim for property damage and medical expenses?