Pursuing A DUI Car Accident Claim
If you are pursuing a car accident claim in which the defendant was also charged with a DUI (driving under the influence), then you should approach it differently from non-DUI accident claims. Here are a few things to note about a DUI accident claim:
Start With a Claim
In most injury cases, it's best to file an insurance claim if the defendant has an insurance policy that covers the accident; this is true with a DUI accident too. Therefore, before rushing to court to file a lawsuit, file an accident claim with the other driver's insurance company first. In many cases, the insurance company will be willing to settle your claim if there is strong evidence of their client's negligence.
Note That Liability Isn't Automatic
Note that the defendant won't be automatically liable for your injuries just because they were drunk when the accident occurred. What if you were actually the one responsible for an accident? What if the intoxicated driver's car was defectively manufactured? For example, hitting an intoxicated driver's car from behind when they are driving and maintaining a legal speed doesn't make them responsible for your accident just because they are drunk. What this means is that you still need to prove how the driver's negligence led to your injuries.
Use DUI Conviction as Evidence
Another thing you should know is that even though liability isn't automatic just because the driver was drunk, you can indeed use the DUI conviction as evidence in your trial. This is possible because criminal cases such as DUI's typically conclude faster than civil lawsuits such as your accident claim. In this case, you are basically saying that even the police and the prosecutor know that the driver was committing an offense by driving while intoxicated, and that offense led to your injuries.
Seek Punitive Damages
In accident cases, punitive damages are typically awarded to punish particularly bad behaviors. Your risk of getting punitive damages awarded in a DUI accident lawsuit is high because few things are as bad as driving while intoxicated and causing an accident. For example, if the intoxicated driver crashed into your car because they did not stop for traffic lights, you have a good chance of recovering punitive damages.
Look Beyond the Driver for Compensation
Lastly, you should not assume that the driver is the only one liable for your damages just because they were intoxicated; that may limit the amount and number of damages you may be able to recover. The owner of the car who loaned it to a drunken driver (assuming the defendant doesn't own the car), the company who allowed an intoxicated driver to work, and the bar that served a driver too much alcohol may also be liable for the ensuing accident.
Contact a local car accident lawyer to learn more.