What Are My Rights After a Drunk Driving Accident?

police car showing up to car accident scene at night

One of the most selfish decisions that a driver can make is to get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol. Yet, even knowing the risks of drunk driving does not stop everyone from driving when they should not.

Every day, 29 people in the U.S. are killed in car collisions caused by alcohol-impaired drivers—that’s one life lost every 50 minutes. Thousands more sustain injuries in these accidents that lead to lifelong disabilities, loss of quality of life, and emotional trauma.

For those who are injured by drunk drivers, you do have options for pursuing compensation for the damages you sustained as a result of the drunk driver’s negligent actions.

Filing a Lawsuit and Pursuing Damages

If there is evidence indicating that the driver who hit you is under the influence of alcohol, they may be arrested at the scene of the crash and charged with a crime. Depending on the specific charge, the driver could face a variety of legal ramifications including jail time, driver’s license suspension, fines, and/or mandatory DUI classes.

While a criminal charge and a civil lawsuit are two completely different legal cases, the good news is that evidence from the driver’s criminal case can be used as evidence by your attorney to show that the driver’s negligent actions directly resulted in your damages.

When filing a civil lawsuit, your attorney will gather as much information and evidence as needed to show the extent of your injuries and compensatory damages, which are meant to repay you, the victim for your total losses. Compensatory damages come in two forms: economic and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

These damages are the total amount of physical losses that you suffered as a direct result of the drunk driving accident. These are more objective losses and include things like:

  • Past and current Medical bills
  • Future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Property damage

Non-Economic Damages

These damages may be more subjective, as they require your attorney to present evidence that directly shows how your quality of life has been and will be impacted. You may receive these damages for:

  • Emotional trauma
  • PTSD, anxiety, depression, or other conditions
  • Lifelong disability
  • Scarring
  • Lost bodily function
  • Loss of quality of life

Additionally, you may also qualify for punitive damages. Unlike compensatory damages, which are meant to repay the victim, punitive damages are awarded in cases where the defendant (the drunk driver) showed gross negligence as a means to deter future similar misconduct.

Keep in mind that, while insurance covers compensatory damages, it does not cover punitive damages. This means that the driver may have to pay for these damages out of pocket. Your attorney can help you decide if there is enough evidence in your case to pursue these damages.

Legal Advocates on Your Side

If you’re injured by a drunk driver, you need dedicated and experienced legal advocates on your side. We firmly believe that those injured by other drivers’ reckless or negligent actions should not have to pay the cost of their own damages.

At Fowler Helsel Vogt, our Fresno car accident attorneys are dedicated to holding responsible parties accountable and protecting the rights of injury victims across Fresno and the surrounding areas. We are here to fight on your behalf so you can focus on healing the right way.

Contact Fowler Helsel Vogt at (559) 900-1280 to get started on your case.

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