If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, there are several ways that you can get justice. While you want to see a drunk driver held accountable, you should not overlook the fact that you are entitled to financial compensation for the harm you have suffered.
The insurance company may still make your case tough, and the last thing that you need is to have to battle with them during a difficult time in your life. Our firm’s drunk driving accident lawyers in Jacksonville, NC can represent you during the legal process to help get you all that you deserve in a settlement or award. Contact Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys to get started.
How Alcohol Affects a Driver
Alcohol impairs driving in a number of ways. Alcohol can:
- Blunt the driver’s alertness
- Alter how they perceive other things on the road
- Slow down their reaction time to challenges
- Lower their inhibitions and cause them to make more risky decision
- Cause the driver to become extremely tired
- Change the driver’s depth perception
All of these lead to extremely risky behavior behind the wheel that puts you at risk. Drunk driving accidents have a higher rate of serious injury and death than other types of car crashes in Jacksonville.
Injuries Sustained in a Drunk Driving Accident
Drunk driving accident injuries often tend to be more severe because they often happen at higher speeds. Further, the intoxicated motorist is driving erratically, giving you less of a chance to avoid the crash.
Drunk driving accidents can lead to the following injuries:
- Fractures and broken bones
- Lacerations and contusions
- Internal injuries and organ damage
- Neck and back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head injuries and concussions
Who Is Liable for Your Drunk Driving Accident Injuries?
Usually, a drunk driving lawsuit would be against the driver who was involved in the crash. You may file a claim against their insurance policy, and the carrier would pay you up to the coverage limits.
If that coverage is not enough to pay for your injuries, you would then file a claim against your own insurance policy.
In some cases, you may have a possible lawsuit against the establishment that sold or served the alcohol. North Carolina has dram shop laws that allow you to hold a business (or host) legally responsible when they have illegally sold alcohol, or they have continued to serve a visibly intoxicated person.
This way, you may also be able to file a lawsuit against a defendant who has “deeper pockets” than the responsible driver. You would need to prove what the establishment knew, or should have known, when it was selling alcohol to the drunk driver.
You may even be able to sue a social host under the dram shop laws, even when they are not an incorporated business.
The Differences Between a Criminal and Civil Drunk Driving Case
Your civil drunk driving accident case operates in a parallel legal environment to the criminal case. In most cases, the end results of the two cases are independent of each other. Even if the driver is not convicted, it does not end your chances of receiving financial compensation.
The prosecutor must prove the criminal case against the driver beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a very high standard of proof, which means that there is no doubt about the defendant’s guilt that could be harbored by any reasonable person.
In a civil case, the legal standard is that you have proven your claim based on a preponderance of the evidence. This standard means that the individual elements of your claim are more likely than not to be true. The preponderance of the evidence standard allows for you to receive compensation, even when there is less than 100% certainty about the defendant’s level of culpability. Theoretically, it is possible for the driver to be acquitted in the criminal case, while you would still receive compensation for your injuries.
If the driver is convicted of drunk driving, it is not automatically evidence of their guilt in a civil case. The only way that a criminal conviction is admissible in your civil case is if the driver pleads guilty. For that reason, a drunk driver would usually plead no contest in the criminal case if they reach an agreement with the prosecutor.
How Our Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers Can Help
The responsible driver’s insurance company will still do whatever is in its power to avoid fully paying you for your damages. The strength of your case does not matter to them. The insurance company will still try to get away with anything it possibly can.
You need an injury attorney in Jacksonville to keep the pressure on them and force them to pay you what you deserve.
Our lawyers can do the following for your case:
- Compile your claim or lawsuit that seeks financial compensation
- Estimate the value of damages that you are seeking
- Communicate and deal with the insurance company on your behalf
- Negotiate for you to receive the largest settlement check possible
- Advocate for you throughout the legal process
There will be a major difference in what you may receive if you try to deal with the insurance company on your own, versus what you may get when you hire a lawyer. You could still end up with more money in your pocket, even after you pay your attorney their share of your financial recovery.
Contact a Jacksonville Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one were injured by a drunk driver, your mind should be both on financial compensation and justice. There is more to being responsible than just being punished criminally. The DUI accident attorneys at Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys will vigorously represent you throughout the process to help ensure that you get every dollar that you deserve when you have been victimized by someone else’s reckless conduct.