Civil claims based on drunk driving accidents are different from other car accident injury cases primarily in terms of public knowledge and perception. Based on all the educational programs and ads, it is common knowledge that drinking can impair someone’s ability to drive.
A Hanover County drunk driving accident lawyer can help pursue both compensatory and punitive damages from someone who causes a crash by driving while intoxicated. Representation from a seasoned car accident attorney could help you maximize your recovery in both contexts, as well as contest any allegations of partial liability on your part.
Allegations of drunk driving can be punitive in both criminal and civil contexts. In a civil case, punitive damages are different than ordinary compensatory damages, which are designed to compensate someone for the injuries.
However, punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant and to also serve as a deterrent to others that might behave in a similar way. Seeing or hearing about previous judgments and settlements further reinforces that if someone drinks and drives, there will be a severe penalty for it.
The severity of punitive damages often depends on the defendant’s blood alcohol level and any previous record they have of DUIs and/or any court-ordered attendance to rehabilitation programs. Someone with that kind of background should be acutely aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, so choosing to reoffend could open them up to punitive damages.
In situations where the injured person was also the drunk driver, their own contributory negligence claim could bar them from recovering any damages at all. However, if the injured driver was only negligent, willful and wanton negligence by the plaintiff might actually supersede contributory negligence. A Hanover County drunk driving accident attorney could work with individual plaintiffs to determine how liability might be assigned in their particular case.
After a car accident caused by a drunk driver, the injured party is as involved in the legal process as in any other case. However, since they are likely still recovering from injuries, it is really up to their lawyer to do the legwork on tracking down any prior DUI convictions the defendant has, as well as the blood alcohol test results that are usually taken as a part of a criminal DUI case.
Generally, it is not the injured person who is pressing charges against the drunk driver. Instead, the state itself pursues those charges. The injured person could be a witness and they may be compelled to testify as to what happened, but the charges are usually pursued by the state against the drunk driver in the criminal matter.
It is important to note that a civil injury case against a drunk driver would be handled separately from their criminal DUI case. There is some overlap, since, evidence from a DUI criminal case can be used in the civil injury case, but it is best for a drunk driving crash lawyer in Hanover County to not interfere with the criminal case. However, an attorney can work together with the state to share certain evidence useful in the civil suit.
While drunk drivers usually face criminal penalties for their actions if they cause a car accident while intoxicated, the criminal justice system in Virginia is not designed to make up for the losses and suffering that reckless or illegal actions cause. Instead, a Hanover County drunk driving accident lawyer could help you pursue compensation through a separate civil lawsuit based on someone else’s negligence. Call today to set up a consultation and learn more.