As per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 people die every day in motor vehicle accidents involving a driver who was impaired by alcohol. That translates into a death every 51 minutes. Idaho isn’t a stranger to drunk driving deaths either. By Christmas of 2015, at least 210 people had died on Idaho roadways. About one-third of those deaths are expected to be attributable to a driver who was impaired by alcohol.
You can seek damages in a civil lawsuit
DUI is a crime, but the criminal courts can’t help victims of drunk driving accidents seek compensation for their damages and losses. Criminal court judges just don’t have jurisdiction to do that, but victims can certainly seek compensation through the civil courts. They can even seek compensation in those courts while the criminal case is pending against the drunk driver who caused the crash. That’s because there’s a different burden of proof in the civil courts.
The two burdens of proof
In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove the drunk driver guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, there’s a lower burden of proof. The injured person need only prove his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence. That means that his or her version of the events is more likely true than not true. Evidence in a criminal case might even be used in a civil case. Regardless of whether a criminal case is dismissed against a drunk driver, or he or she was found not guilty, that individual can still be found guilty in a civil court.
Negligence per se
There aren’t very many defenses that a drunk driver who caused an accident can assert. That’s because he or she can be can be found guilty of negligence per se. To prove negligence per se, a claimant need only prove two things. First, he or she must show that the drunk driver violated a safety statute. Next, it must be shown that the defendant’s conduct caused the type of harm that the statute intended to protect the claimant from.
A victim who was injured in a drunk driving accident in or around Coeur d’Alene might also be able to file a lawsuit against the business or social host who furnished the alcohol to the drunk driver. That count of a lawsuit would be brought pursuant to the Idaho dram shop laws. The burden of proof would still be by a preponderance of the evidence.
The victim of a drunk driver might be eligible for an award of damages. Those damages would ordinarily consist of:
- Past medical bills and medical bills reasonably expected to be incurred in the future
- Past lost earnings and earnings reasonably expected to be lost in the future
- Any permanent disfigurement
- Any permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of a normal life
- Funeral and burial expenses in the event of a wrongful death
- Punitive damages
Contact a Coeur d’Alene Personal Injury Lawyer
Our Coeur d’Alene car accident lawyers know that just about every drunk driving accident is preventable. The responsibility for medical bills shouldn’t have to fall on the shoulders of innocent victims.
If you or somebody close to you was injured, or if a family member died as a result of the carelessness and negligence of a drunk driver, contact our office right away for a free consultation and case evaluation. There’s no obligation, and we don’t even get paid any legal fees unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for you. We’re dedicated to obtaining full and fair compensation for the victims of drunk drivers.