It sounds simple: Wait for the prosecution to convict the intoxicated driver and then use the conviction to win your accident claim. As any experienced Chicago car accident lawyer can tell you, winning your negligence case is not that easy. There are many practical and legal issues to consider.
Key factors in DUI accident cases
If an intoxicated driver caused death or injuries, then the driver should be held accountable for his/her wrong. There’s no excuse for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Some of the major concerns are:
- The standard of proof. In criminal cases, the prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil cases, the plaintiff must prove its case by an easier standard – the preponderance of the evidence. Generally, this means if a defendant is convicted of a DUI, he/she was likely at fault for the accident. If the defendant is acquitted, that doe mean the driver is innocent of civil responsibility. Because the criminal standard is much tougher, acquitted defendants can still be held liable for your injuries or the death of a loved one.
- How the case is proved. Generally, both criminal and civil cases introduce the results of breath or blood tests to prove someone drove while intoxicated. Because questions do arise about the admissibility of breath and blood tests, it is important to begin the civil lawsuit as quickly as possible. Our Chicago attorneys work to prove the defendant would have been liable even if the driver hadn’t been drunk. We work with investigators, the police, and witnesses to show a driver sped, ran a red light, drove recklessly, or disregarded your safety. If a lawyer just waited for the criminal case to take place, they would jeopardize your ability to prove fault in other ways.
- The ability of the defendant to pay. If the drunk driver had insurance, we seek damages from the intoxicated driver’s insurance policy. Many drunk drivers don’t have insurance or don’t have enough insurance to pay for all your pain and suffering, lost wages, and your medical bills. If you have uninsured and underinsured coverage, then your own policy should pay the balance of any damage claim – up to the policy limits.
- Who else might be liable. The owners of the car that struck you may be liable if the owners and the driver are different. If a tavern or business that sold liquor to someone reasonably knowing the patron might drive while intoxicated and the driver did cause the accident, then the tavern or business may be liable to pay some of your damages – up to preset limits.
A drunk driver can also be sued for punitive damages to punish the driver and to deter the driver from ever driving while intoxicated again.
Drunk drivers often cause serious injuries and death. They can’t react to emergencies. They often veer into your lane of traffic. It’s almost impossible to drive defensively because sober drivers can’t anticipate what the intoxicated driver will do. At Gainsberg Law, our Chicago car accident lawyers hold drunk drivers accountable for the harm and tragedies they cause. For help now, please call 312-313-1621 or use our contact form to reach us.