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What Are My Rights After Being Hit By a Drunk Driver?

If you are injured in an auto accident and a drunk driver was at fault, you may assert a civil claim seeking compensation for your bodily injuries and property damage. In a civil cause of action, you will be entitled to monetary damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, or property damage costs. You may either file a claim with the drunk driver’s auto insurance, or you may pursue the drunk driver personally by filing a lawsuit with the appropriate civil court in the county in which the accident occurred.

Will the drunk driver be subject to additional criminal penalties?

It will be up to the responding police officer to cite the drunk driver for driving under the influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), and then it will be up to the local district attorney to file formal charges against the drunk driver. The police officer will only cite the driver if he or she has probable cause to believe the driver is impaired, and the district attorney will only file formal charges if he or she feels it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the drunk driver violated applicable DUI/DWI laws. If the drunk driver is convicted, then he will be subject to criminal penalties, which can include jail time, fines, revocation or suspension of driver license, alcohol and/or drug treatment, and restitution. When our car accident attorneys represent a drunk driving accident victim, we monitor the defendant’s criminal case.

How can alcohol intoxication be proven?

There are several different ways alcohol intoxication can be proven. If the responding police officer believes that a person is drunk, a breathalyzer or field sobriety test may be performed. This test will measure the person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Each state has a statute setting forth the legal BAC limit, and in most states, the legal limit is 0.08%. Another way to determine a person’s BAC is through a blood test. If no breathalyzer or blood test is performed, then you may be able to rely on circumstantial evidence to show that the driver was intoxicated. This can include eyewitness testimony as to the other driver’s behavior following the accident. Slurred speech, glassy eyes, and difficulty walking are signs of driver impairment. The defendant may also smell of alcohol or admit that he had been drinking.

Will I be awarded punitive damages?

It depends. If you have been injured by a drunk driver, the judge or jury may award you punitive damages. Punitive damages differ from the compensatory damages you will receive for the physical harm and financial loss you suffer. Punitive damages are not intended to reimburse you for your losses, but instead they are awarded by judges and juries as a means of punishing a wrongdoer, such as a drunk driver. If awarded, punitive damages will be in addition to any compensatory damages you receive.

Learn More About Your Rights by Speaking with Our Personal Injury Lawyers

Each car and truck accident case is different, and drunk driving crashes are no exception. At Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz, our legal team will work to fully investigate your accident and analyze all theories of recovery. This will allow us to pursue fair compensation for damages such as medical bills, lost wages, permanent disability, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and emotional distress suffered. We serve injured victims in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Kentucky. For a free consultation with an attorney today, complete our online form or call 800-529-4004. We will take the time to provide the individual attention you deserve.