Filing A Civil Claim In A DUI Case
If someone is injured as a result of a DUI-related accident, they may be able to seek compensation for any incurred damages in civil court with the help of a DC car accident lawyer. This kind of case will occur outside of any criminal proceedings involved in the incident, and any awards on behalf of the plaintiff may be in addition to any criminal sentencing. There tend to be two different schools of legal standard for accident compensation; states determine which category they fall under on a case by case basis:
● No-Fault States
If the victim of a DUI driver is in a state with no-fault laws, the amount of money they can recover for injuries is predetermined. There are exceptions in most of these states with accidents involving damages and injuries exceeding the mandated amount for a civil settlement. In these states, a DUI driver is not automatically subjected to civil liability. If the victim’s losses are limited to property damage as well as minor injuries, they may only be able to file a claim with their prospective insurance company. States with these laws all have variations and exceptions when it comes DUI civil suits.
● Pure Negligence States
If the victim of a DUI accident resides or was injured in a pure negligence state, they may be able to file a civil suit against the drunk driver for compensation to cover the total amount of injuries and damages incurred. In a pure negligence state, a victim will likely only have to prove that the accident was the fault of the DUI driver based on a preponderance of the evidence.
Wrongful Death Suit
If a driver or passenger is involved in a drunk driving accident and he or she passes away, their family may be able to bring a civil lawsuit against the driver for wrongful death. Generally, the plaintiff must be able to prove the drunk driver was completely liable for the accident. Evidence utilized will often consist of a police report, accident witnesses, expert opinions, and any other evidence to help prove your case. A wrongful death suit will not bring back a loved one, but it may be able to help family members deal with the financial difficulties that result from such a loss.
DUI cases can be very complex, especially if they yield a civil case in addition to any criminal proceeding. It may be in your best interest to enlist the help of an experienced, qualified attorney should you become involved in a DUI related accident.
Thanks to our friends and co-contributors at Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their added insight into the civil implications of a DUI charge.