What’s the difference between a criminal suit and a civil suit? The two are usually confused in the case of car accidents caused by drunk drivers.
If you are involved in an accident with a drunk driver at fault, will the case follow civil suit or criminal proceedings? The answer is – both or either of the two.
What Are Criminal Proceedings in Case of a Drunk Driving Car Accident?
Any reckless or distracted driving caused by a drunk driver can face criminal charges irrespective of it resulting in an accident, injury, or death. A criminal proceeding in the case of drunk drivers is put in place to make the person realize its mistakes. It acts as a deterrent method to prevent such accidents from happening in the future. Criminal charges are also required to protect the well-being of others on the road.
Drunk drivers in question would be punished according to the state’s laws. It would include paying penalties and fines, imprisonment, suspension of driving license, and other such charges.
What Are Civil Suits in Case of a Drunk Driving Car Accident?
Civil suits are different from criminal proceedings.
Civil suits are lawsuits against the defendant (drunk driver in this case) filed by the injured party (plaintiff) in a car accident. The victim in the car accident can choose to file a lawsuit to recover for the damages caused. The representative of the victim can also file a lawsuit in case of wrongful death.
A civil suit may help you recover the monetary and non-monetary (subject to state laws) damages resulting from a car accident due to drunk drivers.
The No-Fault Laws in Civil Suits
A no-fault in a car accident refers to the driver who was not at fault for the car accident. Some states follow a no-fault law in case of a drunk driving car accident. These laws have a direct effect on civil suits.
According to no-fault laws, drunk drivers are kept at an advantage. At a no-fault state, the victim cannot sue the drunk driver automatically. They can only sue them if the severity of the accident and injuries fulfill the required threshold limit. Even in case of injuries, the state demands the damages to be severe enough to file a civil suit.
A no-fault state does not take into account vehicle damages or minor injuries. Therefore, you may have to take the help of your insurance company to recover the damages.
Different states follow different no-fault laws when it comes to a threshold limit.
Pure Negligence Laws in Civil Suits
If a state is not a no-fault state, it would be a pure negligent state for a drunk driving car accident.
Pure negligence states are states that consider drunk driving in any aspect a negligent act. It gives free rein to the victim of drunk driving car accidents to sue the driver, no matter the severity of the injuries.
As a plaintiff, you can sue the driver as per your choice. However, the burden of proof falls upon you as well, like in the case of any civil suits. Moreover, the lawsuit may not necessarily turn in your favor as insurance company adjusters and defense attorneys are well known for defending such cases. Also, in cases of contributory negligence (i.e., both parties are partially liable for the accident), you can quickly lose a part of your compensation.
However, with an experienced personal injury attorney by your side, the case can turn out well if your case is strong enough. A good lawyer will know ways to present your point better and leave no stone unturned to get the rightful compensation. He will try his best to prove a comparative negligence case otherwise.
Wrongful Death in a Drunk Driving Car Accident
If a drunk driving car accident causes you to lose your loved one, no law can stop you from filing a lawsuit against the drunk driver.
The victim’s representative that can be a family member or spouse can file a civil suit. In case of wrongful death, a civil lawsuit allows the family member to recover for some of the damages that also act as a means to provide economic stability.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the state provides the right to recover both economic and non-economic damages. This would include the funeral expenses, loss of future income, medical bills, pain, and suffering, etc. Some states also allow for recovering punitive damages (extra amount levied on the defendant as a way to punish for his negligence).
If you need more assistance on car accidents caused by drunk drivers, contact us today.