Those who cause accidents due to drinking while driving are not just facing criminal penalties but are also in danger of being sued by the civil court as well. Following is some of the most important information you should know about a DUI Lawsuit
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Injuries caused by drunk driving are most often the subject of a civil lawsuit. While those with DUI citations can face a criminal lawsuit and the possibility of jail time or license suspension they can also face civil lawsuits from their victims or their families. If you or a loved one has been killed or injured due to a DUI case, a civil suit may be you best option to recover damages for the incident.
A civil suit for a DUI is a separate and distinct legal process than any other criminal proceedings that may come from driving while under the influence. Criminal hearings are in place to protect the public from any futures occurrences of DUI acting primarily as a deterrent as well as a punitive action. A drunk driver can face these charges whether he has killed or injured anyone or damaged any property.
The civil lawsuit from drunk driving will come into play if the drunk driver has injured anyone and is filed by the victims of a DUI, or in the case of a wrongful death, it can be filed by the victims family members to recover damages. If you have sustained injuries due to a DUI, a civil suit may be your only chance at improving the high costs of medical treatment, damaged properties, lost wages and many other economic pressures that can come from the incident.
Depending on the laws that govern your specific jurisdiction, you can even find compensation for non-economic damages too, for example, compensation for pain and suffering.
Civil Suits and No-Fault Laws
No-fault laws might be able to interfere with the ability to file a civil lawsuit against a drunk driver. Many states have no-fault laws in place, if so you may find a threshold is in place that prevents you from filing lawsuits for automobile accidents unless injuries have surpassed a minimum statutory severity or the total of damages has reached a certain monetary amount.
The positivity of no-fault laws has been the subject of discussion in many different states that have this law. Unlike those states with the pure negligence laws, no-fault states are not automatically subjected to the possibility of a civil suit. Even if you have been clearly injuring by a drunk driver, unless you are in a pure negligence state, you might not be able to receive any compensation if the statutory threshold has not been passed.
There are some minor exceptions to this law, and they vary from state to state.
Civil Suits for those living in the Pure Negligence States
Those living in states with pure negligence laws in place, you are free to sue any drunk drivers for any injuries you may have sustained. In this case, you will only have to prove fault as you would in any civil suit. On the surface, a civil suit against a drunk driver may seem like a slam dunk open and shut case. But defense attorneys and insurance companies have disputed loud and long over these cases, and they are never as easy as they seem to be.
All the defenses common to negligence cases including comparative and contributory negligence apply to the drunk driving civil suit as well.
Wrongful Death and Drunk Driving
If a relative or loved one has been killed because of a DUI driver, a next of kin may file a civil suit for the wrongful death on behalf of the deceased. A wrongful death is often the only legal mechanism by which a family can secure some financial compensation in the event of a departed family member. Wrongful deaths are a variation of the personal injury lawsuit and follow many of the same guidelines.
You can find both economic and non-economic compensation for damages are available; some states will even allow some punitive damages to apply. Punitive damages are arbitrary financial actions taken against the driver in an effort of deterring future occurrences.