Addiction can have a powerful hold on people, and it’s also often a driving force behind so many of the repeat DUI offenses that occur across the country. According to the National Department of Transportation, about one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of drunk driving are repeat offenders.
Beyond harsher penalties within the criminal justice system, repeat DUI defendants in civil litigation are more likely to face punitive damages. There is a strong case to be made for punitive damages when a driver is accused of repeatedly violating state laws and jeopardizing the safety of innocent people. Punitive damages provide further compensation to the victim but are intended to punish the offender.
In Massachusetts, punitive damages generally aren’t available in personal injury cases, no matter how negligent the conduct or how bad the injuries. However, punitive injuries may be available if an individual or corporation engages in gross negligence or willful or wanton conduct that results in a death. This is because the Massachusetts Wrongful Death Act, M.G.L. c. 229, creates an exception to common law on the punitive damages issue.