What’s the best way to pursue a claim against an impaired driver who has caused an accident?
Impaired driving is when an individual operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs to the degree that mental and motor skills are impaired.
If you’ve been involved in a South Carolina motor vehicle accident caused by an impaired driver, you may have questions about the best way to proceed. After all, driving while under the influence can not only result in serious injuries or death, but is also a criminal act, something that might appear to interfere with filing a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver. To find out more about how to pursue a claim against an impaired driver, continue reading.
Criminal vs. civil
One of the most confusing parts about bringing a personal injury claim against a driver who was illegally under the influence of drugs or alcohol is the interplay between the criminal and civil justice system. Those without much legal background may wonder if it is even possible to pursue a civil claim involving a criminal act, or fear that criminal prosecution could stall or trump a civil suit.
Thankfully, there’s no need to be greatly concerned. Criminal and civil legal matters are handled completely separate from one another,and both can proceed simultaneously against an impaired driver. That means that if the driver who caused your accident has been arrested and is being charged criminally, you are still able to bring a civil claim for compensation for the harm you suffered.
Though alcohol and drug related driving cases are different in many respects from other car accident injury cases, the legal standards needed to win such a case are the same. This means an accident victim will need to show that the impaired driver is at-fault, just as they would in any other civil lawsuit. Once the impaired driver can be shown to be negligent, the plaintiff can then bring forward evidence of damages suffered as a result of the negligent actions of the driver who was under the influence.
Though impaired driving cases may seem like easy wins for injured victims, the reality is that defense attorneys and insurance companies spend a tremendous amount of time and money fighting cases like this every day. However,winning is far from guaranteed. Even though impaired driving is illegal, defendants can still make all the same arguments in their defense as anyone else involved in an injury case, including blaming the victim for being partially responsible.
Because impaired driving accident cases can be more complex, it is important to gather as much evidence for your side of the case as possible to ensure the best result. In the event that the other driver is actually convicted of a DUI or similar offense, the injured motorist can now use this evidence as proof the other driver was driving negligently. This kind of proof makes it much easier to prove negligence and to assign blame to the impaired driver.
Each and every accident has unique circumstances that can greatly effect the outcome of a claim. In cases involving accidents with impaired drivers it is important to ensure that all your rights are well represented. An experienced attorney will always bring the knowledge and strength to help you through the process.
To learn more about how an automobile accident attorney can help you, please click here, or give us a call at (843) 577-5530.
David Aylor is a Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Charleston, Walterboro, and Myrtle Beach, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 11 years. David Aylor believes in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.