The San Luis Obispo Tribune is reporting that a 19 year-old man was arrested for drunk driving Monday after causing a car crash on Corbett Canyon Road. All three people in the car he hit were hurt. The extent of their injuries is not yet known.
Those injured will certainly have the right to sue the drunk driver for their injuries. However, under some circumstances, a person who causes injuries by driving while drunk may be subject to punitive damages. Punitive damages are assessed against a defendant as a means of punishment, and are not determined by the amount of harm caused to the plaintiff in the accident.
Prevailing on a claim for punitive damages in a drink driving case requires careful investigation into both the driver’s history, and the circumstances surrounding how he came into possession of the alcohol. Obviously, since the driver was only 19, he must have either purchased the alcohol illegally, or someone provided it to him. Depending on how he got the alcohol there may be a potential for a damages claim against the person who was responsible for providing the booze. Careful investigation will be critical.