Intoxicated Drivers Lawsuit in 2024 - All Guide

If you are injured by an intoxicated driver, you have the right to file an intoxicated drivers lawsuit to recover damages and losses. The driver need not be convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) before a civil lawsuit can be filed.

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How to know if you have a civil claim for damages or not?

To decide whether you have intoxicated drivers lawsuit claim for damages against a reckless driver, you just need to answer the following questions:

  • Was someone driving a vehicle in an intoxicated state?
  • Did that person injure you?
  • Are you or anyone else other than the driver responsible for the incident?

What is the legal limit for alcohol?

A driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher can face a DUI charge. This legal limit is established to make it easier for law enforcement to charge those that are intoxicated to a certain level.

However, a driver that has a BAC of between 0.05% and 0.08% is considered driving while ability impaired (DWAI). Although it carries slightly less significant penalties, DWAI is still a crime.

Who can sue a wrongful death claim?

Do you have a legal standing to file a wrongful death claim? You do if you are one of the following:

  • The designated beneficiary of the deceased.
  • The deceased person’s spouse.
  • The deceased person’s parents (if the deceased is an incompetent or a minor).
  • The heirs or children of the victim.

What type of cases are drunk driving lawsuits?

An intoxicated drivers lawsuit could either be a lawsuit for negligence or wrongful death. In either case, the victim may recover the following:

  • Property damage.
  • Lost wages.
  • Medical costs.
  • Non-economic losses (in some circumstances).

Negligence drunk driving lawsuit

In an intoxicated drivers negligence case, you need to prove specific elements, including the following:

As a general rule, all drivers owe other drivers and pedestrians the duty to operate a vehicle in a manner that will avoid injuring others.

In civil litigation, pointing to the evidence of the accident itself should be enough to demonstrate that a breach occurred. Hiring an intoxicated driver’s accident attorney can help you prove these cases successfully.

You need to prove that the defendant’s conduct is the factual and legal reason why you were injured.  In other words, no one else, including yourself, could have primarily contributed to your harm. This is where it gets tricky and where your intoxicated drivers accident attorney will come in.

You are not allowed to use the legal system unless your injuries manifest into recognizable economic or non-economic damages. This includes, among others, medical costs, property damage, or pain and suffering.

However, in drunk driving situations, plaintiffs can simply demonstrate that the conduct was unreasonable because it is against the law. Thus, the law presumes that the drunk driver was negligent as long as the following elements are present:

  • The conduct caused the harm that the law was meant to deter.
  • The defendant broke the law.
  • The law provides a criminal penalty for the act.
  • The plaintiff or the victim belongs to the group that the law is trying to protect.

Laws against drunk driving are meant to protect other drivers, pedestrians, and passengers. Therefore, if defendants drink and drive and then crash into and harm others, they are liable to compensate the victim in an intoxicated drivers accident lawsuit or claim. After all, they broke the law and harmed people in a manner expressly prohibited by law. This policy is actually helpful as it saves claimants a lot of time during the trial. Instead of arguing over whether the defendant’s conduct was wrongful or not, the claimant can show that the conduct caused your injuries or damage.

Wrongful death drunk driving lawsuit

You can also file a wrongful death claim if your relative or loved one died because of a drunk driver. However, you need to prove the following points to get maximum compensation in an intoxicated drivers lawsuit.

  • The defendant owed a legal duty to the decedent.
  • The defendant breached that legal duty.
  • The victim died and suffered monetary damages due to the defendant’s breach.

Most common defenses in drunk driving cases

Expect the defendant to raise defenses to avoid liability to pay compensation. Some of the  common defenses that people would use to prevent an intoxicated drivers settlement include:

The victims need to argue that the police stop, which led to the DUI, was not properly maintained. As a result, the officer lacked probable cause for the accident.

Defendants often argue that either the field sobriety test or breathalyzer test was not accurately completed. They would normally claim that the machine was malfunctioning, the officer did not know how to administer it, or there were outside factors that tampered with the breathalyzer test.

Defendants point to police, administrative, or other errors to justify their release or exonerate them from civil punishment. They would also cite some intervening force or event to explain away the incident instead of their drinking and driving.

5 evidence to strengthen your case

The following documentary and testimonial evidence can help build a strong case for you.

The officers who responded to the accident caused by an intoxicated driver’s negligence need to file a formal report. This report will likely contain the most crucial details, such as the results of any field sobriety tests or breath tests conducted in the aftermath. The police report will help you prove that the driver who struck you was impaired.

Several parties might have seen what happened, including other motorists and their passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians. If any of those parties testified to seeing the at-fault party driving erratically before the crash, it would really help strengthen your claim.

Accident reconstruction experts will determine how the accident occurred by checking out the photos and videos of the wreckage. This evidence plays an important role in convincing the insurance adjuster that the driver who struck you was drunk.

Most modern vehicles are now equipped with event data recorders or black boxes. From seat belt engagement to brake application, these devices log more than a dozen operational variables. Therefore, if the black box data shows that the motorist who hit you was driving recklessly before the accident or failed to take any evasive maneuvers whatsoever to avoid the collision, the reckless or intoxicated driver’s negligence makes them liable.

Your medical records, such as your health insurance statement, hospital logs, and x-ray images, will serve as the foundation of your damages claim. To mitigate disputes regarding causation, you need to visit a doctor as soon as possible after the accident. Additionally, it will help reduce the risk of complications since some impact injuries can get considerably worse the longer they are left untreated.

Intoxicated Drivers Lawsuit Lawyer

Ethen Ostroff Law can help you connect with an experienced intoxicated driver’s accident lawyer who will go after the person or company that caused your injuries. If you have any inquiries or want to know how we can handle your intoxicated drivers lawsuit case and successfully get you maximum compensation, don’t hesitate to contact us. 

Call us on 610-510-8883 as soon as possible so we can ensure filing a lawsuit within your state’s statute of limitations.

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