Drunk driving is an enormous problem in the United States. In 2017, nearly 18,000 individuals died in crashes where the driver had a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit. That adds up to 49 people per day—one every 29 minutes. That astonishing number doesn’t even include people who sustain injuries in an accident but survive. If you’ve been injured in a drunk driving accident, you may face a mountain of medical bills and lifelong damaging effects.
Our Attorneys Can Help
Wisconsin law allows you to file a car accident lawsuit in which you can recover damages not only for your monetary losses suffered at the hands of a drunk driver, but also for other damages, such as pain and suffering or mental and emotional distress. An experienced Milwaukee car accident lawyer can help you recover damages for the irresponsibility of a drunk driver.
Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may have incurred costs that far exceed the limits of both your medical and auto insurance policies. A hospital stay of even one week can result in medical costs that extend into the tens of thousands of dollars. Add to that an even longer hospital stay, follow-up appointments, medical devices, physical therapy, occupational therapy, rehabilitation, and medications, and costs can be enormous and overwhelming. The crushing weight of medical debt accounts for medical costs being the number one cause of bankruptcy filings in the United States, but that doesn’t have to be you.
Contact an attorney as soon as possible regarding a potential car accident case. Wisconsin law generally imposes a statute of limitations on these legal actions, meaning that you have a limited time from the date of your accident to file your suit. The sooner you bring an attorney onto your case, the sooner he or she can begin to prepare your suit. Drunk driving accident lawsuits are complicated, and plaintiffs must file them properly. And the sooner you file, the sooner your case can be resolved and you can get out from under the overwhelming weight of medical bills that you can’t pay out-of-pocket.
4. Types of Drunk Driving Accident Damages
There are four types of damages you might be able to recover in your car accident lawsuit: economic, non-economic, nominal, and punitive. The type of damages and amounts that you might recover are heavily dependent upon the facts of your case. You may be entitled to some or all of the damages described below.
1. Economic Damages
Economic damages are intended to compensate you for the measurable monetary damages that you’ve suffered as a result of your accident. These types of damages tend are generally easy to prove with receipts and bills. The costs of ambulatory transportation, your initial hospital stay and procedures performed during it, follow-up appointments, medications, medical devices that you now must use, imaging, copays, laboratory tests, as well as rehab and therapy costs are all economic damages.
Your injuries may have forced you to miss work and lose wages. They may be serious enough that you now have to take employment in a different field at a lower wage because you now have physical or mental health needs that prevent you from doing the type of work that you previously did. You are entitled both to wages you’ve already lost and to those that you will lose in the future. An actuary can calculate the amount of your future lost wages by taking into account your current wages, life expectancy, any decrease in earnings that your injury has cost you, and your future earning potential.
Economic damages also include any damage to property that you suffered in your accident. Most of the time this is damage to your vehicle but could also cover any valuables damaged in your accident.
Because economic damages are based on easily calculable damages, you must document them. Keep receipts and bills that you receive. Track the hours and days that you have to miss from work for both your initial hospital stay and for any follow-up or therapy/rehab appointments. In addition, your lawyer can help you show any tips, commissions, or retirement contributions you missed out on due to your accident-related absence from work.
2. Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are the intangible costs of the injuries that you’ve suffered. Because these costs cannot be assigned a particular value through a bill received, the only way for you to recover them is through a personal injury suit. If your case proceeds to trial, a jury will determine the amount of non-economic damages you receive. There are various categories of non-economic damages you may have suffered and be entitled to compensation for, including:
- Pain and suffering: These types of damages are common in personal injury suits, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to define. They might include such things as physical agony or discomfort, disfigurement, disability, or deformity.
- Emotional distress: In addition to physical pain and suffering, many accident victims also suffer from mental health conditions. Post-traumatic stress disorder, debilitating fear of getting into a vehicle, stress, nervousness, and anxiety are all common after a traumatic event, such as a drunk driving accident.
- Lost enjoyment of life: Damages for loss of enjoyment of life include those for decreased life expectancy, loss of one or more senses, the inability to participate in life’s pleasures or activities that you once enjoyed, and inconvenience from any loss of limb.
- Loss of consortium: Loss of consortium refers to the damage your accident inflicted on your family and intimate relationships. Following your accident, you might be unable to engage in sexual activities or have children. Loss of companionship with a spouse, the inability to care for children, or being unable to display or show affection are other types of loss of consortium.
3. Nominal Damages
These damages are not intended to fully compensate you for your injuries. Rather, they are a small monetary amount intended as compensation for wrongdoing that you have suffered.
4. Punitive Damages
Courts award punitive damages in cases of extreme negligence, recklessness, or indifference to human life. Rather than to compensate a victim for damages that he or she has suffered, punitive damages are intended to punish an at-fault party and deter him or her from engaging in similar behavior in the future. Under Wisconsin law, punitive damages are limited to twice the total of economic and non-economic damages or $200,000, whichever is greater.
Contact a Milwaukee Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
Drunk driving accidents can have devastating consequences for victims. If you’ve been injured, you deserve an attorney who will fight to help you recover every dollar to which you are entitled. The attorneys at Groth Law have a proven track record of recovering compensation for their clients. Although no attorney can guarantee a particular outcome in your case, you can rest assured that the Groth Law Firm will bring experience, expertise, and compassion to your case.
Contact us online or by calling (414) 240-0707 for a free consultation and case evaluation.
Groth Law Firm, S.C.
1578 West National Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53204