While drunk drivers can face serious criminal charges, requiring them to pay fines and possibly spend time in jail, they can also face civil liability. If you or a loved one is injured or killed by a drunk driver in a car crash, a civil suit may be your best path to recover damages for your harms and losses.
Civil Suits for Drunk Driving Injuries
A civil suit for drunk driving is separate from any criminal proceedings a drunk driver may face. Criminal proceedings are designed to punish the reckless driver and to act as a deterrent for future criminal conduct.
Those injured by a drunk driver may file a civil case to seek monetary compensation. If you are injured by a drunk driver or if you have lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident, a civil suit may help you recover the costs of medical treatment, lost wages, damaged property or pain and suffering.
Prior to filing suit, you may enter into settlement negotiations with the drunk driver’s insurance company or counsel. If the at-fault driver received a traffic ticket or citation for an open container or was arrested for DUI, you may be in a better position to negotiate your claim.
Tips for establishing DUI
- Tell the police officers if you smell alcohol or marijuana on the other driver's breath. Alerting the responding police officer may spur them to act, possibly administering a field sobriety test.
- Watch to see if the other driver tries to get rid of beer bottles, alcohol or drugs. If you saw the other driver throwing out any of these items, be sure to alert the responding officers.
- Tell the officer if you see the driver switch places with a passenger and/or alert the officer to the true identity of the driver.
Use the Police Report in your Negotiations
Police reports contain a separate section entitled Contributory Factors. The investigating officer will make notes in this section about factors they believe contributed to the crash. Drunk driving should be noted as a contributing factor. Other traffic violations should also be noted. Use the police report as evidence of the at-fault driver’s culpability during your negotiations.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a drunk driving crash, contact Chelsie King Garza for a free consultation about your next step.