There is an epidemic of drunk driving in the United States, as each day 29 people are killed in a motor vehicle accident involving a drunk driver. According to the CDC, 111 million people self-reported that they regularly drink and drive. That being said, car accidents involving drunk or impaired drivers are on the rise, and the likelihood of being hit by a drunk driver is increasing every day. After being in a car accident with a drunk driver, you may wonder if the drunk driver’s illegal actions will affect your upcoming or current civil lawsuit against that driver – or if you can even file one while criminal proceedings are ongoing. Below we discuss how a drunk driver’s charges and/or conviction can impact a civil car accident lawsuit and the associated insurance claims.
Depending on the circumstances of the car accident, a drunk driver can face criminal charges while concurrently being civilly sued for financial damages by the victim of the accident they caused. If the drunk driver is criminally convicted, they can face fines, jail time, community service, rehabilitation, and restitution. Criminal charges and convictions generally do not include any financial payment to the injured party. A civil lawsuit can force the drunk driver to compensate the injured car accident victim for their medical costs and other damages associated with the auto crash. When successful, civil lawsuits hold the drunk driver personally accountable for your injuries, emergency medical treatment, ongoing medical treatment costs, damage to your vehicle, lost income, lost earning capacity, and pain and suffering related to the accident.
Winning a Civil Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuit
For a civil lawsuit to be successful, your personal injury attorney will have to prove that the drunk driver directly caused your injuries.
The following elements must be proven for your case to be successful:
- The other party owed you a duty of safety as you shared the road
- The other party breached his/her duty by being negligent and/or reckless by driving while drunk
- The other party’s negligence injured you in the car accident
- The injuries you sustained caused you to suffer quantifiable damages
Your personal injury attorney will use all evidence gathered from the motor vehicle accident to prove these elements and hold the drunk driver accountable. The victim of the accident has the burden of proving that the drunk driver caused the accident. Just being guilty of drunk driving is not the same as being guilty of causing the car accident. A victim cannot rely solely upon a drunk driving conviction to prove fault for the accident – but a drunk driving conviction can establish the at-fault driver was negligent. Evidence used to convict a drunk driver in criminal court can also be used in civil matters to help establish fault. The potential for a significant jury verdict also increases if the drunk driver is convicted for driving under the influence. An experienced personal injury attorney can use this conviction as leverage to maximize compensation for your injuries.
Each personal injury attorney conducts their own investigation into what caused a car accident separate from any criminal investigation. In a civil case, your trial lawyer is not attempting to prove the criminal guilt of the drunk driver, only that the drunk driver caused the car accident. Building a strong case with evidence proving the fault of the other driver is key to fair compensation.
The drunk driver’s defense attorney and their auto insurance company will try to fight your claim and lawsuit and reduce your chances of being fairly compensated. The drunk driver’s insurance company may try to offer you a quick settlement with an extremely low payout that will not cover all of your medical costs. Do not agree to this and do not sign anything they send to you. They will do everything they can to avoid a lawsuit on behalf of their insured. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will try to deny liability, dispute your injuries and damages, and/or will try to turn the blame on you to say that you contributed to causing the car accident. Speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible if you have not already hired one to represent you in your case. Your attorney can negotiate with the insurance company and prevent them from bullying you into a settlement that is not fair. And, if negotiations fail, they can aggressively litigate your case in civil court.
Texas Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys
J.D. Silva & Associates works to help our clients hold drunk drivers accountable for their actions and get compensation for their damages. This can include reimbursement of medical bills, assistance with ongoing disabilities caused by the car accident, payment for lost wages, and financial assistance with pain, suffering, and emotional distress. We work with the insurance companies to obtain the maximum amount you are rightfully owed and to ensure the negligent driver is held responsible.
J.D. Silva & Associates wants to keep Texas safe from drunk drivers and make sure their victims in these roadway accidents get the assistance they deserve. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver, contact us today at 281-971-3200.