Getting behind the wheel of a car is inherently risky, but when someone chooses to drive drunk, the danger is exponentially increased. Car accidents happen every day, and sometimes people are hurt, but accidents involving drunk drivers tend to be much more serious because intoxicated drivers tend to drive quite erratically and can unknowingly cross over into oncoming traffic, or enter a highway from the wrong direction. The resulting injuries can be devastating, and force the victim to incur high medical bills and months or years of lost wages trying to recover. In some cases, the victims do not survive, and the need for compensation by the family is even greater.
As an example, a Waukegan woman was charged with DUI and aggravated DUI causing death when she ran a red light and killed a married couple in the ensuing crash. The woman was found to be intoxicated at more than twice the legal limit. However, criminal culpability for driving while intoxicated does not automatically equal civil liability for car accident injuries. Fault must still be proven, and in drunk driving cases it is important to look at the responsibility of both the driver and the establishment who served the alcohol, as both could be liable for accident injuries. A discussion of how drunk driving impacts a car accident personal injury case, will follow below.
In order to hold anyone at fault for an injury, it is first necessary to prove he/she was negligent. Negligence essentially means that a person failed to exercise reasonable care, an obligation all drivers have to operate their vehicles – in a safe and prudent manner and that this failure led to an injury. On the issue of a drunk driver, a person can be held both criminally and civilly responsible for their actions. Thus, if the driver that caused the injury was drunk, he/she can still be sued to recover medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.
A finding of intoxication can go a long way to proving negligence, but it is still necessary to directly connect the drunk driver’s actions with the victim’s injuries, which is typically accomplished with police reports, eyewitness testimony, medical records, and expert reports.
Further, even if the driver was not legally drunk, any amount of alcohol consumption can help to show that negligence was present, and an experienced accident attorney will understand how to use this information to help establish the legal responsibility of the defendant.
Generally, claims against the driver’s insurance company are the primary source of receiving compensation. Unfortunately, not all drivers have insurance, or they have insurance that is insufficient to cover the amount of damages sustained. In these cases, it may be necessary to go after the establishment that served the alcohol to see if it may share some liability for the harm caused.
Restaurants, bars, liquor stores, and other businesses that sell or serve alcohol can be subject to liability if the alcohol they provided leads to an injury or death of a third party in an accident due to subsequent intoxication. To assign liability to the entity that served the alcohol, specific factors must be established that link the alcohol sale to the plaintiff’s harm. These factors are:
Car accident injuries can greatly and permanently impact a person’s life. If you were injured in a car accident, and want to learn if compensation from the other driver is a legal option, talk to the experienced DuPage County car accident attorneys at Mevorah Law Office, LLC. We have extensive experience recovering for accident victims and are available to discuss the facts of your case.
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