People that are hurt in car accidents often seek damages in civil lawsuits from the parties that caused the accident. Typically, a plaintiff that proves a defendant’s liability in an auto crash case will be awarded compensation for the cost of treating injuries and repairing property damage caused by the accident. In some instances, though, a plaintiff may be awarded other damages as well. In a recent Florida opinion, a district court of appeals discussed when a plaintiff may assert a punitive damages claim in a lawsuit arising out of a drunk driving accident. If you were hurt in a crash caused by an intoxicated driver, it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted Florida DUI accident attorney to discuss what damages you may be able to pursue.
Background of the Case
Allegedly, the plaintiff was walking on a Florida sidewalk when he was struck by a car driven by the defendant. The plaintiff filed a civil lawsuit against the defendant, asserting a negligence claim. An investigation revealed that the defendant was intoxicated due to marijuana and alcohol at the time of the accident. While the civil claim was pending, the defendant was charged with multiple DUI crimes, to which he pleaded guilty.
It is reported that after the defendant’s entry of a guilty plea, the plaintiff moved to amend his complaint to include a claim for punitive damages. The trial court held a hearing on the plaintiff’s motion, after which it issued an order granting the motion. The defendant filed a petition for certiorari review of the order, arguing that it should be quashed because the trial court did not set forth express findings when it determined the plaintiff could assert a claim for punitive damages. Upon review, the appellate court denied the defendant’s petition.