As personal injury lawyers in Snellville, we have seen several injuries from DUI crashes. Generally, driving drunk or driving under the influence of a drug is a criminal offense in Georgia. Under the state’s law, drivers must keep their blood alcohol content below 0.08%.
Any driver who drives with the preceding BAC and gets in an accident resulting in bodily injury or death would face criminal charges. Because of this, most victims fail to file a compensation claim against the fault driver. Instead, they believe having the criminal justice system handle the case is all the justice they need. But this isn’t true.
In as much as a DUI crash is a criminal offense where a guilty offender faces jail time, fines, or both, a victim is still entitled to compensation. This article explores the legal options available to a victim after a drunk driving accident. If you sustain injuries from a DUI collision, contact us for excellent legal advice and representation at The Weinstein Firm.
What Legal Options Are Available to a DUI Crash Victim?
Statistically, 29 people in the United States die every day in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This shows the prevalence of impaired drivers on the road. It also explains why states like Georgia do not go easy on DUI drivers who cause accidents. As such, under the fault-based rule, a victim of a drunk driving accident can get compensation.
For this to happen, there are two legal options available to the victim. The first is requesting an accident settlement, and the second, filing a civil lawsuit. Our Snellville drunk driving attorneys look at this one after the other.
Requesting an Accident Settlement
Filing a lawsuit is never the first or best option in accident cases. Before beginning the long and complex litigation process, it is wise to request a settlement from the drunk driver’s insurance carrier. To do this, you or your personal injury lawyer can write a demand letter to the insurance company.
The letter would contain facts about the accident, like location, time, day, month, year, and how it happened. You should attach supporting documents to support your facts. These documents are:
- Police report
- Witness statements
- Photographs and video footage, if any
- Medical record
- Accident reconstruction expert report, if any
- Breathalyzer or blood alcohol test result
The last document is crucial when demanding compensation for a DUI crash. This is because if you allege that drunk driving is the sole or primary cause of the accident, you need to prove it. Lastly, the demand letter would also contain the settlement sum you want as economic and non-economic damages.
The insurance company will either deny or accept your claim. If they deny it, they might do so outright or send a counter-offer. Should they send a counter-offer, the negotiation begins until both parties arrive at an acceptable sum. But, if the victim accepts the amount, they will sign a legally binding agreement that bars them from commencing another compensation claim process.
Filing a Civil Lawsuit
When an insurance company outrightly denies a request for settlement, you can file a personal injury lawsuit. However, a settlement denial is not the only reason to sue. Most often than not, in DUI crash cases, victims with catastrophic injuries go straight to court. This is because they believe a sympathetic jury would grant them more money than an insurance company would pay.
Another reason to file a lawsuit is if the facts of the case support asking for punitive damages. However, you can’t decide this on your own. Only an expert attorney can determine where your case qualifies for punitive damages. After filing the lawsuit, the court will recommend mediation before trial commences.
If it works, you settle and take your money. But if it doesn’t, the case goes to trial where the jury can either decide for you or against you after examining the evidence and listening to both parties’ arguments. Note that a conviction in the criminal case against the DUI driver makes it easier to get compensation.
Here, the DUI crash driver’s guilt has already been established, and all that’s left is for you to arrive at a settlement sum with their insurer or wait for the civil court’s judgment. In either case, have your Snellville personal injury lawyer handle the process.
Contact The Weinstein Firm Today!
At The Weinstein Firm, our lawyers understand the trauma of traffic collisions and the financial implications they bring. For this reason, we’ll work with all the legal tools at our disposal to get you the maximum compensation. Our goal is getting you justice, and we’re happy to do so. Contact us today for a free case review.