Car accidents happen every day, and many people will experience at least one during their lifetimes. However, how many of these include a drunk driver? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 31% of fatal traffic accidents involve drunk drivers.
If you were recently hit by a drunk driver, you may benefit from hiring an experienced DUI attorney to pursue compensation for your injuries. While the driver may face criminal charges for causing a drunk driving accident, you may not automatically qualify for compensation for your medical costs or other losses unless you pursue a civil claim in court.
What to Do at the Scene if You Suspect the Negligent Driver Is Drunk
If you suspect the negligent driver who hit you is under the influence of alcohol, report any signs you noticed to the responding police officers for the accident report. Signs you might have noticed before the crash or while interacting with the other driver might include:
- Seeing the other driver weaving between lanes or over lane dividers
- Seeing the other driver not using their headlights after dark
- Noticing the other driver fail to stop at stop lights or stop signs
- Smelling alcohol on the other driver
- Seeing empty or open containers in the other driver’s vehicle
- Noticing that passengers in the other driver’s vehicle are inebriated
- Seeing the driver switch places with another vehicle occupant
Make note of these with the responding officer for the police report and you may consider requesting the officer perform a field sobriety test and breathalyzer on the other driver. If the officer finds that the other driver exceeds the legal limit or behaves erratically, they may arrest the driver.
How Criminal Charges Against the Drunk Driver Impact Your Compensation
The responding police officer might file criminal charges against the drunk driver in your case. Your DUI attorney can include the defendant’s conviction for the DUI criminal case as evidence for your civil suit for the drunk driving accident, which can help prove your case and increase your compensation.
A conviction for a drunk driving criminal case can also help you pursue other liable parties who may have contributed to the accident. Dram shop laws may also allow you to file suit against a bar or restaurant that over-served alcohol to the negligent driver.
In this case, you may be able to seek more compensation from more liable parties and increase your overall award to cover your costs and losses due to the accident.
Types of Damages You Can Pursue in a DUI Accident Lawsuit
In a personal injury case like a DUI car accident case, you can pursue economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. Economic damages cover tangible losses for medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and other calculable expenses tied to your injuries.
Non-economic damages cover losses that don’t come with a bill, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, and loss of quality of life.
Punitive damages punish wrongdoing by a person who was reckless, wanton, oppressive, or intentional in their actions that led to your injuries. To pursue punitive damages, you and your DUI attorney will need to provide sufficient evidence, such as:
- The police report
- BAC at the time of the accident
- Information from the criminal case (if available)
- Traffic citations
- Surveillance or traffic camera footage
- Medical records
- Witness testimony
Contact Our Firm for DUI Accident Injuries in Texas or New Mexico
Drunk driving accidents can lead to a lifetime of pain for victims. For help filing a civil lawsuit against a drunk driver, contact us at Fadduol, Cluff, Hardy & Conaway, P.C. An experienced DUI attorney from our firm in Texas and New Mexico can help. Call us today at 800.433.2408 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.