Many people believe that drunk driving is strictly a criminal issue. This could not be further from the truth. If you or a loved one are hit by a drunk driver, you can bring a civil claim against the driver. This claim is completely independent of the criminal charges brought by the State.
What is a civil claim for drunk driving?
A civil case generally begins when one individual (the “plaintiff”) claims to have been harmed by the negligent actions of another person or business (the “defendant”). The plaintiff initiates a legal action by filing a “complaint”. While a person can file a civil claim without the help of an experienced accident attorney (and in this section, we discuss the ins and outs of representing yourself in a car accident claim), doing so is generally not advised when a drunk driver is involved.
In the complaint, the injured person / plaintiff can ask the court for “damages,” meaning money to pay the plaintiff for any harm suffered. A judge or jury will determine how much the defendant owes you, based on evidence and numbers presented by your attorney.
Financial compensation for accident victims
Regardless of the whether the other driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, if you were injured by a driver’s negligence (speeding, texting, etc…), you have the right to recover financial compensation for your injuries.
The types of compensation drunk driving accident victims generally pursue include:
- Hospital bills
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
This list is not exhaustive. Speak with a drunk driving accident lawyer about your specific case. For example, if the drunk driver was legally intoxicated at the time of the accident, you may also be able to pursue punitive damages. Punitive damages act as punishment to the defendant and serve as an example to the public and as a result, can greatly increase the amount of monetary compensation a victim receives.
What to do if you have been injured
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident involving a drunk driver, including a hit and run accident, know that the law and proven accident lawyer Barry P. Goldberg are on your side. For a free, no obligation consultation, contact him today.