The Importance of Punitive Damages in Drunken Driving Accidents
Losing a loved one in a car accident can be a tragic and traumatic experience. When the accident is the fault of an intoxicated driver, it is normal for other feelings such as anger and hostility to arise. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there were more than 33,000 convictions for drunken driving offenses in Wisconsin in 2012 alone. Given the high volume of convictions, it is clear that some Wisconsin residents do not grasp the seriousness of getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol and that more drastic measures need to be taken to protect our loved ones from being victims of drunk driving accidents.
Wisconsin Judges Face Scrutiny for Failing to Adhere to Minimum Sentencing Guidelines
The Associated Press recently reported that in more than a half a dozen cases, Wisconsin judges have imposed sentences on habitual drunk drivers that fall below certain statutory minimums. An investigation revealed that some judges failed to place Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) offenders, who had recently been released from jail, on probation.
The investigation also uncovered that some judges were issuing sentences well below the minimum mandated by Wisconsin law. The most notable example of this was of a Green Bay man who had been convicted of drunken driving offenses seven times. According to Wisconsin law, the man was to be sentenced to three years in jail. However, the judge sentenced him to only two years with the option of early release. Not surprisingly, the man was back on the streets after only serving a nine-month jail sentence.
In addition to facing criminal charges such as OWI, a person who seriously injures or even kills a victim as a result of drinking and driving is susceptible to face a civil lawsuit. The victim may file a lawsuit for negligence and seek monetary damages for the injuries sustained as a result of the accident. The defendant (person at fault) may be liable for damages, such as hospital bills, loss of future income, and other monetary losses.
However, in some cases, the victim may also be awarded punitive damages. Punitive damages are determined by the litigation process and are not computed by the severity of the injury or loss. Instead, punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for his or her conduct and to deter others from acting in the same manner.
Contact an Aggressive Wisconsin Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a drunk driving accident, please contact one of our aggressive Appleton personal injury lawyers or Green Bay personal injury lawyers at Herrling Clark Law Firm Ltd. We offer a free initial consultation to review the facts surrounding your case and have offices located in New London, Oshkosh, Green Bay and Appleton.