There’s a long list of dangerous things you never want to do. You don’t want to jump off of a high bridge hoping the water or bushes below will help cushion your fall. Sticking your hand into a garbage disposal while it’s on, is also behavior you want to avoid.

Another dangerous behavior that some individuals engage in is drinking and driving. If you’re injured in a drunk driving accident you may be eligible to file a claim for damages. What are the potential damages in a drunk driving accident claim? You may be able to claim economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.

Potential Penalties for Drunk Driving in Illinois

Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal in all 50 states. There aren’t any exceptions to this law. The only thing that can change is the penalties. These are set down on a state-by-state basis.

In Illinois, your first DUI (driving under the influence) offense is considered a Class A misdemeanor. Penalties can include up to one year in jail and fines up to $2,500. Community service, at least 100 hours, is another possibility. Fines and monetary penalties increase for your second DUI offense, but it’s still considered a misdemeanor.

If you receive a 3rd DUI ticket, it’s a felony. This means along with hefty fines, you’re probably also facing jail time which can range from 3 to 7 years.

Your blood alcohol level (BAC) can also play a role in your penalty for driving while intoxicated. If a minor is in the vehicle, this can also increase your fines and other penalties. A DUI, even if it’s your first offense, can also be a felony if you’re involved in an accident with another driver.

Types of Compensation for a Drunk Driving Claim

If you’re involved in an accident with a drunk driver, vehicle damage and injuries are often severe. This may mean you’re facing expensive medical and property repair bills, and this is only the tip of your potential financial losses.

So, what types of damages can you claim in an Illinois drunk driving accident? As mentioned earlier, you may be able to claim your economic and non-economic losses. Your claim may also qualify for punitive damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are losses with a tangible price tag. This means you know the value of each item you list in your claim. Your medical expenses are economic damages. This includes your current treatment, along with any long-term care. If your injuries require a lifetime of medical care, this can also be listed as economic damage.

On top of this, some other types of economic damages include:

  • Property repair or replacement. While this almost always applies to your vehicle, it’s not the only type of property that can be damaged in a drunk driving accident. Any personal belongings damaged inside your vehicle can be included in the claim. For example, if your laptop is damaged in an accident. Your cell phone and other devices are other examples. This also applies to any personal items belonging to your passengers.
  • Loss of current and potentially future earnings. Remember, injuries in drunk driving accidents are often severe. This means you may not be able to return to work immediately after the accident. Your economic damages can include this loss of pay. If your injuries prevent you from returning to your same position or going back to work for the foreseeable future, your claim may also include loss of future earnings.

Proving economic damages is also relatively easy. Since these are tangible, you can refer to medical bills, repair estimates, and pay stubs to total the damages.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are intangible. There isn’t an obvious price for these types of damages. Your non-economic damages can include things like mental anguish, pain, and suffering. Loss of life enjoyment is another example of a non-economic loss.

How do you calculate the value of something that doesn’t have a price tag? You have two options. You can use the multiplier or per diem method. One method isn’t necessarily better than the other. Which one you choose often depends on the total of your economic damages.

To calculate non-economic damages using the per diem method. You take the total of your economic damages and multiply it by the number of days you experienced pain. The multiplier method has you assigning a number typically ranging from 1.5 to 5 to your level of pain. You take the assigned number and multiply it by the total of your economic damages.

Depending on the total amount of your economic damages, one method may work best for your non-economic damages. For example, if your lost wages are higher than average the per diem method may not be the best option. Don’t forget that insurance companies are going to fight high claim amounts. You may get a better response using the multiplier method.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are only awarded by a judge or jury and this means your injury claim must go to civil court. There aren’t any exceptions. Just because you’re pursuing a personal injury claim in court doesn’t also guarantee that you’ll receive punitive damages.

This type of compensation is rarely awarded in personal injury cases. To be considered for a punitive damage award, you must prove the driver’s impairment is directly responsible for the accident. In other words, the accident wouldn’t have occurred if the driver wasn’t drunk. You must also prove the driver showed an obvious disregard for the safety of others by getting behind the wheel after drinking.

Even if you prove these two standards, the court doesn’t have to award punitive damages. This type of damage is meant to punish the defendant and serve as a deterrent to others to prevent them from engaging in the same dangerous behavior.

Learn More About Your Potential Damages in Your Drunk Driving Claim

After a drunk driving accident, consulting with an experienced accident attorney is key to understanding the damages you might be entitled to.

An adept attorney will review your case in detail and guide you toward receiving fair compensation. This includes assessing your eligibility for compensatory damages that cover your losses and exploring the potential for punitive damages, which serve to punish the negligent party and prevent similar actions in the future.

With a knowledgeable attorney by your side, you can navigate the legal process more effectively and focus on your recovery.