Can I Sue If I Was Hit By a Drunk Driver?

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If you or a loved one have suffered an injury in a car accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation as long as you prove that someone else was at fault. If they were negligent or reckless, they may be obligated to pay. This rule includes an accident that was caused by drunk driving.

The Aramjoo Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers can help maximize your financial compensation when you have suffered an injury in a car crash. Contact our car accident lawyers in Liberty, MO for a free consultation.

Damages in a Drunk Driving Accident

If you have suffered an injury in a drunk driving accident, you should be paid for the full value of your damages, including:

  • The costs of your medical care
  • The wages that you lost by being unable to work
  • Pain and suffering that come from your post-accident experience
  • Emotional trauma and distress from the accident
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Wrongful Death Compensation in a Drunk Driving Accident

If your loved one was killed in the accident, your family could file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible driver. The damages in a wrongful death lawsuit are intended to compensate your family for their suffering. In this case, the wrongful death is your family’s personal injury, and you may be entitled to the following:

  • The lost wages that your loved one will have provided
  • Compensation for your family’s grief and distress from suddenly and tragically losing a loved one
  • Payment for the loss of your loved one’s guidance and the close relationship that you had with them

Separate Criminal and Civil Legal Processes in DUI Accidents

Do not make the mistake of thinking that the drunk driver can get off the hook for what they did to you because they are facing a criminal punishment. The civil compensation process has only some connection to the criminal process, and it in no way depends on a criminal conviction.

If the drunk driver is convicted of a crime, they will still need to pay financial compensation to you in a separate proceeding. You may still receive a settlement or award, even if the drunk driver is not charged or convicted. There are two separate standards of proof in criminal and civil cases. The prosecutor has a much higher standard of proof. They must prove their case to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

Your burden of proof in a civil proceeding is proving your case by a preponderance of the evidence. It is possible to win a civil case when there has been an acquittal in the criminal matter.

Using Evidence of a Guilty Plea in a Civil Case Against a Drunk Driver

If the drunk driver is convicted after a jury trial, you will not necessarily use evidence of that conviction as proof in your civil case. You will still need to prove that their actions were responsible for your injuries. The only way that a criminal case can impact your civil case is if the driver pleads guilty to the crime. Then, you can use the plea as evidence in your civil case.

In reality, drunk drivers will only sometimes plead guilty when their actions have injured another driver because they know the ramifications of a civil lawsuit. If they reach a plea deal with the prosecutor, the driver will plead no contest to the criminal charges. If they do, you will still need to prove your case against them.

Suing a Third Party in a Drunk Driving Lawsuit

Depending on where the driver was drinking before the accident, you may also have a legal case against a third party. Missouri has dram shop laws that allow you to file a lawsuit against the establishment if they had continued to serve a driver who was visibly intoxicated. The dram shop laws apply to any commercial establishment with a license to sell liquor, not just a bar. When our attorneys investigate your case, we can learn who may have served the drunk driver before they got behind the wheel and injured you.

Maximize Your Settlement Against a Drunk Driver

Most drunk driving civil cases will settle at some point. While the insurance company pinches pennies and takes advantage of claimants, they are also a rational business. They know that the last place they want to be is in front of a jury, which may have an angry reaction to the drunk driver. A jury may even hit the responsible driver with punitive damages. Then, the driver may come after their own insurance company for failing to settle the case.

However, you must work to get the money you deserve because it will not be given to you. Our attorneys know the value of your case, and we are committed to getting you full compensation for the harm you have suffered.

Contact a Liberty, MO Personal Injury Lawyer Today

When you have suffered an injury in a car accident with a drunk driver, the attorneys at the Aramjoo Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers are in your corner, ready to fight for you when you need it. We know how insurance companies may try to take advantage of you, and we know how to fight back.

To speak with one of our attorneys, contact us online or call us today at (816) 479-5898.

Drunk Driving Accident FAQs

Are punitive damages a possibility against drunk drivers?

Punitive damages are rare in a personal injury case, but they are possible in a drunk driving case that goes to a jury. You will not likely receive these damages if you settle your claim.

Do I need to wait for a conviction to file my civil lawsuit against a drunk driver?

No. Since the two processes are largely separate, you can file your claim for financial compensation at any time.

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