It seems like there is no shortage of appropriate times to talk about drunk driving. This month, we’ve discussed the dangers of drunk driving during the upcoming holidays already. Truthfully (and unfortunately), it’s a topic we encounter in personal injury law all the time. There is no time of the year when drunk driving accidents cease to exist, despite ongoing efforts to reduce drinking and driving behaviors.
Drunk driving is responsible for four out of ten traffic accidents annually in the United States. In drunk driving cases, the pursuits of criminal charges and claiming damages for personal injury are separate. This means a court can acquits the driver of all criminal charges, and a personal injury lawsuit can still proceed with no negative impact. It is, however, important for a drunk driving accident victim to understand key factors when filing a suit for compensation. Procedural rules are important in all aspects of the law, and personal injury is no different. Claims for compensation can be dismissed purely on technical grounds, meaning the claim failed to meet procedural requirement. This is just one reason it’s important to call an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident.
Proving The Case
In order to win your claim, you and your lawyers will need to prove your case against the other driver beyond a reasonable doubt. Several factors play into this:
- The driver’s driving record—is there a history of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
- Does the individual have a record of public intoxication or other kinds of alcohol-related disturbances?
- The police report from the accident will play a major role in any drunk driving accident case and will probably provide the most convincing evidence on your behalf (assuming the driver truly was drunk at the time of the accident).
When A Bar Is Responsible For Injuries
Certainly, a claim for damages should always be made against the drunk driver, but the victim of the accident is not necessarily limited to a single path to proper compensation for losses and injury. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, it may also be possible to sue a restaurant, a bar, or other establishment, under the Dram Shop Act, which states:
“an individual who suffers damage or who is personally injured by a minor or visibly intoxicated person by reason of the unlawful selling, giving, or furnishing of alcoholic liquor to the minor or visibly intoxicated person, if the unlawful sale is proven to be a proximate cause of the damage, injury, or death, or the spouse, child, parent, or guardian of that individual, shall have a right of action in his or her name against the person who by selling, giving, or furnishing the alcoholic liquor has caused or contributed to the intoxication of the person or who has caused or contributed to the damage, injury, or death.”
Basically, this means a bar or other establishment who has served alcohol to an underage minor or someone who is already visibly intoxicated can be held liable for personal injury, pain and suffering, loss or damage of the vehicle, loss of earnings or business profits during the period of incapacitation, and for medical expenses.
If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident and you want to understand your options better, call the drunk driving accident attorneys at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm today for a free consultation: 1-800-LEE-FREE.