Drunk driving accidents cause thousands of injuries and deaths every year. When a drunk driver causes an accident, injured victims and families of those killed have legal options to hold the drunk driver accountable and receive compensation. Here is an overview of how fault and liability are determined in drunk driving crashes, and how victims can pursue damages.
Proving the Driver Was Impaired
The first step in an injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit against a drunk driver is proving that the driver was legally impaired. The blood alcohol content (BAC) of the driver at the time of the accident is critical evidence. A BAC of 0.08% or higher constitutes legal impairment in most states. Police usually test the driver’s BAC at the scene or hospital. However, even if police did not obtain a BAC, victims can rely on other evidence like observed signs of impairment, toxicology tests, and witness statements to prove intoxication.
In injury lawsuits, the plaintiff must prove the defendant’s negligent actions directly caused their damages. With drunk driving accidents, the driver’s decision to operate a vehicle while impaired establishes clear negligence. However, plaintiffs still need to prove the drunk driver’s actions directly caused the accident and their injuries. Police reports, accident reconstruction evidence, and witness testimony help establish liability.
Even when drunk drivers clearly act negligently, their insurance company or defense attorney may try to argue the victim shared some fault. This is called comparative negligence. For example, they may claim the victim was speeding or not wearing a seatbelt. If proven, comparative negligence can reduce a victim’s compensation. An experienced personal injury attorney can fight questionable comparative negligence claims.
Holding a drunk driver fully accountable means recovering all available damages. This can include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, pain and suffering, property damage, and punitive damages intended to punish the driver’s egregious misconduct. The family of someone killed by a drunk driver can recover wrongful death damages like funeral costs and loss of companionship.
Identifying All Potential Defendants
While the drunk driver caused the accident, plaintiffs should also consider claims against other parties who may share liability under the law. This could include the bar or restaurant who overserved the obviously intoxicated driver. It could also include claims against the employer if the driver became intoxicated at a work event. Identifying all potential liable parties ensures full accountability.
We Can Help
Pursuing fair compensation in a drunk driving accident often requires extensive investigation, negotiations with insurers, and complex litigation. An experienced personal injury law firm like us understands how to build the strongest case against a drunk driver, identify all liable parties, fight unfair comparative negligence claims, and maximize compensation for clients. Drunk driving accident victims should not hesitate to discuss their case with us, so we can help you move forward and claim the compensation you deserve.
Visit our offices at:
- Westerville – 4151 Executive Pkwy, Suite 355, Westerville, OH 43081
- Mansfield – 33 S. Lexington-Springmill Rd, Mansfield, OH 44906
Call now for a free consultation on (614) 224-4114.