Most people involved in a drunk driving accident assume that recovering damages will be a breeze. There’s not much to it, is it? “The guy that hit me was drunk, it says so right here in the police report, he’s responsible for my damages. Case closed” From the victim’s point of view, it makes perfect sense. However, in the eyes of the law, you still need to prove that the other driver was responsible for what happened. Maybe it was the sober guy who caused the crash and the drunk one cannot be blamed for it or held accountable for damages. Sure, the drunk driver may be charged with DUI, but that’s a different story.
If you sustained serious injuries in the crash, you should reach out to seasoned drunk driving accident attorneys. You will have to file a personal injury lawsuit and prove that it was a case of negligence. Your lawyers will have to examine the police report, visit the scene of the crash, talk to witnesses and get hold of surveillance camera footage if the circumstances of the accident are unclear.
According to the law, to prove a case of negligence, four factors must be established.
Duty of care
When you seek damages from someone, you must first show they had a duty of care toward you. This is easy in a car accident. The moment you get your driver’s license, it is implied that you will obey traffic rules and watch out for the safety of other road users.
Breach of duty
This is the most important part of a drunk driving accident claim. Your lawyers will have to show in what way the other driver failed in their duty of care. The fact that the driver was drunk will weigh heavily in your favor. However, keep in mind that a driver facing a DUI charge will hire a lawyer to defend him in the criminal trial and his legal team may try to pin the blame on you.
Here your lawyers will argue that you wouldn’t have been injured had the other driver been sober at the time. Depending on the other guy’s blood alcohol concentration, your lawyers will explain in front of the jury how such a BAC affected their ability to drive.
This is the most sensitive part. Your lawyers will have to justify the amount of damages you’re seeking.
First, you can claim compensatory damages which are of two types:
- Economic damages – covering your medical expenses and lost wages, past and future
- Non-economic damages – compensating you for your pain and suffering, both physical and mental. The amount you can get depends on the severity of your injuries, how they impacted your life, and how convincing a case your lawyers present. Keep in mind that some states cap the amount of money you can get under non-economic damages.
In a DUI case, most states allow punitive damages as well, as they are meant to punish this type of reprehensible conduct and deter other people from drinking and driving. Again, caps may apply depending on the state you live in.