Our car accident lawyers settled an Illinois car accident case involving a drunk driver for $575,000.00. The drunk driver was driving a large pick up truck owned by a car dealership. This allowed us to make a claim against the car dealership’s insurance.
In Missouri and Illinois evidence of intoxication by an at fault driver will, in most cases, allows punitive damages. Under Missouri and Illinois law, punitive damages cannot be added to a lawsuit until after filing a motion with the court, showing sufficient evidence to justify punitive damages, then the court will grant leave to file punitive damages. As a practical matter, if the evidence is overwhelming that the driver was drunk, then I often will add punitive damages initially as the defense will not fight the punitive damages claim as they know the judge will ultimately allow it.
Punitive damages are important as they can be used to pressure the insurance company to settle quickly to avoid an excess judgement. An excess judgement is when the judgement exceeds insurance policy limits and thus holding the at fault driver personally responsible financially over and above his insurance coverage. In such situations, I send a letter to the insurance company demanding payment of policy limits within a certain time period, usually 30 days. At the expiration of the time period the offer is forever withdrawn. This tactic opens the insurance company up to potential liability for an excess judgment under a bad faith refusal to settle claim.
The key to the above personal injury lawsuit settlement was the combination of the potential excess judgment liability and even more importantly properly evaluating, treating, and proving our client’s traumatic brain injury “TBI” through his neurologist, different experts to evaluate his current impairment and future impairment that he will suffer as a result of the head injury.
As a result of our efforts, the drunk driving injury lawsuit settled for a total of $575,000.00. $350,000.00 from the car dealership’s insurance policy covering negligent entrustment and the negligence of the drunk driver; $100,000.00 being the policy limit for the drunk driver’s separate personal policy, and $125,000 from the insurance policy that covered the driver of the vehicle my client was traveling in.
If you or someone you know has suffered a traumatic brain injury, post concussion syndrome, or other head trauma as the result of the negligence or fault job is about to call you of another, please contact us for a free evaluation of your case.