One question you might ask yourself after an auto accident is “should I sue the drunk driver?” A lawsuit can be a great tool to recover damages for injuries and losses caused by that driver. But how will their intoxication affect the claim or lawsuit process? By understanding what is involved in a lawsuit against a drunk driver, you could be better prepared to pursue maximum financial recovery for your injuries and recoveries.
What’s the difference between Civil Cases and Criminal Drunk Drivers Cases?
When a driver is impaired by alcohol and causes an accident, they will typically be subject to two different types of legal cases. First, they may face criminal charges for driving under the influence (DUI). The DUI is intended to punish drivers who break the law and drive while their ability is impaired due to alcohol consumption. In order for the prosecutor to be successful in court, they must prove that the driver was operating their vehicle with the “presence of alcohol” or “proving on the balance of probabilities that [the driver] had consumed alcohol”. If convicted, the convicted driver may face punishment which can include fines, suspension of driving privileges, and jail time.
Additionally, anyone who was hurt in that accident can pursue a separate civil claim against the drunk driver to recover compensation for their medical expenses and any personal losses. A civil lawsuit could take the form of an insurance claim against the drunk driver’s liability insurance policy or a regular lawsuit against them. The party must prove they were more likely than not harmed by the other person to prevail, which is much lower a legal standard than in a criminal case.
You can usually hold drunk drivers liable in civil court, even if they weren’t found guilty in criminal court. For example, an acquittal could motivate the other party to settle. Having a criminal conviction on their record can also make them more inclined to give you compensation.