What Are Your Options After Being in a Drunk Driving Accident?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Gregory H. Herrman with Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C..
Drunk driving is a serious problem that puts the lives of not only the intoxicated driver at risk but also the lives of anyone else on the road. Whenever someone is injured in a drunk driving accident, it’s important to know what your options for physical and financial recovery are. While it’s easy to assume that the District Attorney (DA) will hold the driver accountable for breaking the law and pursue your damages, it generally takes a civil personal injury claim to pursue the full extent of the compensation the injured person is entitled to.
If you are involved in an accident where you suspect the other driver was operating their vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, call the police so they can secure the scene and investigate this suspicion right away. If the accident occurred while the person suspected of DUI was operating a work vehicle, you can also call their employer to ensure they undergo mandatory drug and alcohol testing.
A civil car accident claim likely offers the best chance at making a fair recovery.
While yours and the other driver’s insurance may be able to help with some of the small, initial expenses, serious car accidents can be extremely costly. From ongoing medical bills to lost wages and the cost of a new vehicle, insurance companies rarely provide the extent of the compensation necessary for a serious DUI accident. In a civil car accident claim, the injured party or “plaintiff” can seek to hold the DUI driver or “defendant” accountable for the accident and its consequences. Medical bills, lost wages, life care expenses, and even pain and suffering are just a few of the many types of damage that may be pursued in a DUI car accident lawsuit.
If the defendant does not have enough money to pay these damages, a car accident attorney may also be able to help you analyze and combine insurance policies to maximize your coverage and reduce out-of-pocket expenses wherever possible. In fact, most car accident attorneys offer free consultations and work on contingency, which means clients only pay if and when their case is won; this structure is designed to help injured clients focus on healing and recovery rather than worrying about additional expenses.
The DA represents the state, not the accident victim.
In the criminal trial, the DA’s objective is to represent state laws for the jurisdiction in which they work and hold the defendant accountable for breaking the law. However, because they do not represent the DUI accident victim, they typically do not put much effort into pursuing compensation for all their damages. While the DA might seek to have the defendant pay certain medical bills for the victim, the recovery an accident victim makes from the criminal case is usually far less than that of a civil lawsuit. There is a common misconception, however, that a civil case can only begin after the criminal trial has concluded; this is not the case.
The injured party and their family may file a DUI accident claim regardless of whether or not a criminal trial is in process. In fact, waiting to file a personal injury lawsuit could actually make the case harder to win, allowing more time to pass in which important evidence could be lost, dispersed, or destroyed. The most effective and efficient method for pursuing recovery after being injured in a DUI accident is reaching out to an experienced car accident lawyer; these attorneys can evaluate all of your options; including insurance benefits, results of a criminal trial, and the damages you are eligible to file for in a DUI accident lawsuit.
For more advice on what to do after being injured in a drunk driving accident, reach out to a DUI accident attorney in your area.