I Got Hit By a Drunk Driver in Denver – What Am I Entitled To?

Hit By A Drunk Driver? CALL (800) 863-5312 TO SPEAK TO AN INJURY LAWYER TODAY

If you were involved in a wreck caused by an intoxicated driver, you are entitled to recover the same types of damages as any other car accident. Depending on which state you were in when you were hit by the drunk driver, you may also be entitled to damages often called punitive damages or exemplary damages.

To learn more about how much you may be entitled to after your accident, schedule a free consultation with a Denver drunk driving accident lawyer from Zinda Law Group by calling us at (800) 863-5312. You will not owe us anything unless we are able to win your case.


Just as in any other wreck that is someone else’s fault, you may be able to claim economic and non-economic damages. 

Economic Damages

The value of your economic damages reflects the sum of every provable financial expense that was a result of the accident. Calculating your economic damages will require you to keep a record of any bills that you may have incurred as a result of your injury, as well as any and all wages that you lost due to missed time from work.

Economic damages include things like:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Other types of expenses you may have to pay as a result of the wreck and your injuries.

For example, if you were injured in an accident and were later treated at a hospital or by a family doctor, the resulting medical bill will be one component of the calculation of your economic damages. Any medication or medical equipment that you may have purchased as a result of your injury will also be added into the equation. If, for example, you were unable to work for seven days because of your injury, the amount of earnings you would have made for those workdays will be included in the equation.

Be sure to keep detailed records of any time you may have missed from work due to doctor’s appointments, hospital stays, or inability to go to work due to pain.  Because the value of your economic damages relies heavily on bills incurred, it is very important to keep organized and thorough records of the bills you receive following an injury. Doing so will make the calculation process much simpler and provide you with hard evidence of your expenses, which can be used against insurance companies who often try to minimize the value of your claim.

If your car and/or personal property are damaged in the wreck, you may have a property damage claim, too. With respect to your vehicle, the measure of the damage is either the fair market value of the vehicle before the crash, or the cost to repair the vehicle.  The at-fault driver’s insurance company will usually choose the option that is cheapest.  For example, if the cost to repair your vehicle is greater than the fair market value of your vehicle before the wreck, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will choose to pay the fair market value of the vehicle before the wreck rather than pay to have the vehicle repaired.

You may also have a claim for loss of use and/or diminished value.  Loss of use generally refers to the claim you have if you are without the use of your vehicle due to the wreck.  The value of that claim is normally the number of days you are without the vehicle multiplied times the daily rental rate of a similar vehicle. 

Remember, if the other side’s insurance company pays for a rental, your loss of use claim will not include the days you had the rental.  You may have a diminished value claim if the insurance company chooses to repair your vehicle instead of “totaling it out” and choosing to pay the vehicle’s fair market value.  Often, if the insurance company chooses to repair your vehicle, your vehicle will be worth less for the simple fact it was involved in a wreck.  In such a situation, the value of your diminished value claim is the pre-wreck fair market value of the vehicle minus the new value of the vehicle after the wreck and the repairs.

To learn more about calculating the value of Dimished Value Claims, view this article from Bankrate: What is a Diminished Value Claim?

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are a little harder to quantify.  Even though non-economic damages are harder to quantify than economic damages (you aren’t going to get a bill that tells you exactly how much your pain and suffering is worth), very often, these types of damages are the most important part of the case.  Different states have different categories of non-economic damages, but they are normally similar. Non-economic damages include things like:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental stress
  • Mental anguish
  • Physical impairment
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of quality of life

With respect to both economic and non-economic damages, you can claim past and future damages.  For example, you may have a claim for past medical bills and future medical bills.  You may have a claim for past mental anguish and future mental anguish.

Punitive Damages / Exemplary Damages

Unlike most negligence or car accident claims, cases involving someone who was hit by a drunk driver may be grounds for punitive damages (some states call them exemplary damages).  Punitive damages are different from the economic and non-economic damages explained above.  The economic and non-economic damages above are generally called “compensatory damages.”  These types of damages aim to make one whole or put you back in the position you would have been in had it not been for the wreck.  

Punitive damages, on the other hand, are not designed to make you whole.  Their purpose is to punish a defendant for bad actions.  Generally, to present a claim for punitive damages or exemplary damages, a plaintiff must prove some conduct on the part of the defendant that rises above ordinary negligence.  Different states have different nuances and standards, and different limits on the amount of punitive damages you can seek.  

For example, some states require you to establish what is known as “willful and wanton conduct,” which means conduct purposefully committed which the actor must have realized as dangerous, done heedlessly and recklessly, without regard to consequences, or of the rights and safety of others.  Some states use the phrase “gross negligence” or “recklessness.”  The main point is the culpability of the conduct must rise above ordinary negligence – and often must show a conscious disregard for or indifference to the life, safety or rights of others.  Usually, if someone is driving while severely impaired, our attorneys will be able to establish this.

Unfortunately, many insurance policies do not cover punitive or exemplary damages.  Nonetheless, there are strategies that can be used involving pleading punitive damages that can put pressure on the insurance companies to pay fair money on your case. 


Sadly, drunk driving accidents occur every day. But Zinda Law Group is here to help. Our knowledgeable Denver drunk driver attorneys may help ensure the proper steps are taken to get the best possible outcome for your case.

If you were the victim of an impaired driver, call Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with a drunk driving attorney. You will pay nothing unless we can win your case.

Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.

Recommended Reading:

What To Do After Being Injured By a Drunk Driver