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Drunk Driving Accident Claims

Drunk driving accidents are a major concern in today’s society.

When someone is hurt or killed in an accident due to a driver’s intoxication, legal options may become available.

This section will explore the different legal options available to those affected by a drunk driving accident, including the potential for liability and negligence on the part of the intoxicated driver.

Additionally, it will discuss the types of damages that can be claimed, as well as the process of filing a claim with the insurance company and filing a lawsuit in court.

What is a Drunk Driving Accident?

Drunk driving is defined as the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, which can cause impairments in physical and mental abilities that can negatively affect an individual’s ability to drive safely.

The impact of alcohol on driving abilities is significant, as it can cause slowed reaction times, impaired vision and judgment, and difficulty with coordination, all of which can lead to an increased risk of an accident.

Drunk driving is a serious offense, as it can severely harm or even take the life of another person.

Defining Drunk Driving

Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can lead to serious consequences.

Drunk driving is classified as a form of impaired driving and is defined as the act of operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. This limit is universal throughout the United States and is determined to be the point at which a person’s normal faculties become impaired.

The consequences of driving while impaired can be severe and can include the following:

  • Fines and/or jail time
  • Suspension of driver’s license
  • Higher insurance premiums
  • Property damage liability
  • Criminal charges for vehicular manslaughter

In addition to these legal consequences, many states have instituted programs such as ignition interlock devices, alcohol education programs, and community service.

a person sitting in a car with a bottle in their hand.

The Impact of Alcohol on Driving Abilities

Consumption of alcohol can have a significant impact on a person’s driving abilities. Depending on the amount of alcohol consumed, individuals may experience a decrease in their motor skills, depth perception, coordination, and reaction time. This can lead to a greater risk of an accident, as the driver may not be able to respond to potentially dangerous situations quickly enough.

Alcohol can also impair judgment, resulting in riskier behavior such as speeding, not obeying traffic laws, and not paying attention to the road. Alcohol consumption can also lead to confusion and drowsiness, which can further impair a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.

Even a small amount of alcohol can have an effect on a person’s driving performance, making it difficult for them to concentrate and process information quickly. It is important to note that the effects of alcohol can vary from person to person, depending on how much they have consumed. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the potential consequences of drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

What Legal Options Are Available?

When a drunk driving accident occurs, there are two primary legal avenues that can be pursued: criminal charges and civil claims.

Criminal charges are generally brought against the driver and involve the prosecution of the driver for criminal acts, such as driving under the influence or manslaughter.

Civil claims, on the other hand, are separate from criminal charges and are generally brought by the victims of the accident.

In a civil claim, victims may seek compensation through a personal injury claim, which is a legal action that seeks to recover damages incurred due to the negligent or intentional actions of another party.

Criminal Charges vs. Civil Claims

Evaluating the distinction between criminal charges and civil claims is an important step in understanding the legal implications of an incident. Accidents resulting from drunk driving can result in both criminal charges and civil claims.

Generally speaking, criminal charges are brought by the state or federal government against a person accused of committing a crime, while civil claims are brought by an individual seeking to recover damages for injuries sustained as a result of the crime.

When it comes to drunk driving accidents, criminal charges could include operating a motor vehicle under the influence, vehicular manslaughter or homicide, or other criminal offenses.

On the other hand, a civil claim typically consists of a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death claim, where the alleged victim or the family of the deceased seeks compensation for any harm incurred.

Seeking Compensation Through a Personal Injury Claim

In the event of a personal injury due to the negligence of another, the injured party may seek compensatory damages through the filing of a legal claim. This type of claim, known as a personal injury claim, is a lawsuit that is filed in civil court and is used to seek financial compensation from the responsible party for the expenses incurred due to the injury. A personal injury claim can be used to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

When a personal injury claim is filed, the defendant is typically required to provide evidence that their actions were not negligent and that the claimant is not entitled to the requested compensation. The claimant must also provide evidence that the defendant was negligent and that their actions caused the injury. In most cases, the defendant is found liable and must provide the necessary compensation to the injured party.

Elements of a ClaimPlaintiffDefendant
NegligenceMust prove the defendant’s negligence caused the injuryMust prove the defendant’s actions were not negligent
DamagesMust prove the damages are the result of the injuryMust prove the damages are not the result of the injury
Burden of ProofMust prove the claim with a preponderance of evidenceMust prove the defense with a preponderance of evidence

Liability and Negligence

Establishing fault in drunk driving accidents and proving negligence in a drunk driving case are two related, yet separate, legal issues.

In order to prove negligence, fault must first be established; this is typically done by demonstrating that the defendant breached their duty of care owed to the plaintiff.

In the context of drunk driving accidents, this can be done by showing that the driver was operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs, thus violating the duty to drive safely and responsibly.

Establishing Fault in Drunk Driving Accidents

Determining the culpability in incidents involving inebriated parties can be a difficult process. A party may be found negligent if they are found to have caused the accident while operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

To establish fault in a drunk driving accident, investigators will typically consider the following:

  1. The level of intoxication of the driver.
  2. The number of passengers in the vehicle.
  3. Any additional factors that may have contributed to the accident.

Further evidence such as toxicology reports, witness statements, and videos from surveillance cameras may be used to establish fault in a drunk driving accident.

In some cases, the police officer who responded to the scene may provide a sworn statement as to the driver’s level of intoxication. In addition, if the driver was found to be in violation of any laws at the time of the accident, such as speeding or running a red light, this could be used to establish fault in the accident.

If both parties were found to be operating their vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol, fault may be determined by which party was more intoxicated or who was driving more recklessly at the time of the accident.

a couple of keys sitting on top of a wooden keychain.

Proving Negligence in a Drunk Driving Case

To prove negligence in a case involving intoxication, evidence such as toxicology reports, witness statements, and video recordings may be used. Toxicology reports can be used to determine the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of the at-fault driver at the time of the accident. This can be used to prove that the driver was intoxicated and therefore negligent in causing the accident. Witness statements can be used to provide an unbiased account of the accident, as well as the behavior of both drivers prior to the crash. Video recordings can be used to establish the position of both vehicles in relation to each other, as well as the speed of the vehicles.

Toxicology ReportsDetermine BAC
Witness StatementsUnbiased Account
Video RecordingsEstablish Position/Speed

In addition to the evidence mentioned above, other factors such as the driver’s past driving record, any criminal record, and the presence of drugs or alcohol in the car can be used to prove negligence in a drunk driving case. Ultimately, a thorough investigation is required to ensure that all relevant evidence is taken into account in order to prove negligence in a drunk driving case.

Damages That Can Be Claimed

When discussing damages that can be claimed in the context of a drunk driving accident, two primary categories must be addressed – economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are those that are tangible and can be verified through receipts, records, and other documents, such as medical bills, lost wages, loss of future earning potential, property damage, and funeral expenses.

Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are intangible losses, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of companionship.

Economic Damages in Drunk Driving Claims

Estimating the economic costs associated with a collision caused by an impaired individual can be a complex process.

The types of economic damages that a plaintiff can claim in a drunk driving accident include medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage.

Medical expenses can refer to any medical costs incurred as a result of the accident, including hospital stays, surgeries, medical treatments, and prescription medications.

Lost wages refer to any income that the plaintiff lost due to the accident, such as salary, commissions, bonuses, or overtime pay.

Property damage refers to any damage done to the plaintiff’s vehicle or other personal property, such as replacement costs, repair costs, or the fair market value of the damaged items.

Calculating the economic damages associated with a drunk driving accident requires a thorough understanding of the applicable laws and regulations.

In some cases, the plaintiff may need to hire an expert to provide an estimate of the economic damages.

In addition to calculating the economic damages, the court may also consider the potential punitive damages the defendant may be required to pay.

Punitive damages are usually awarded in cases where the defendant has acted with gross negligence or recklessness.

Punitive damages are meant to deter the defendant from engaging in similar behavior in the future.

Non-Economic Damages in Drunk Driving Claims

Collisions caused by an impaired individual can also result in non-economic damages being sought by the plaintiff in a legal action.

These damages are more difficult to quantify than economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, as they pertain to intangible losses, such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and emotional distress.

Non-economic damages are often taken into consideration when a drunk driving accident has resulted in physical and/or mental harm to the plaintiff, or when a loved one has been lost.

In addition to the physical pain, mental suffering, and emotional distress, non-economic damages may also include damages for loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and mental anguish.

Loss of consortium is the loss of the companionship and services of a spouse, while loss of enjoyment of life is the inability to partake in activities that were once enjoyed.

Mental anguish is a term used to describe the psychological trauma or suffering caused by a drunk driving accident.

All of these non-economic damages can be taken into consideration when determining the amount of compensation a plaintiff is entitled to.

Filing a Claim with the Insurance Company

The first step in filing a claim with an insurance provider is to report the accident.

It is important to provide accurate information regarding the incident and make sure that all parties involved are included in the report.

When negotiating with an insurance adjuster, it is important to be clear and concise in outlining the events and damages that occurred, as well as any potential medical costs that may be associated with the accident.

Reporting the Accident to Insurance Providers

Understanding the circumstances of a motor vehicle incident and accurately conveying them to insurance providers is a critical step in the process of determining potential liability. It is important to provide a clear and accurate description to the insurance company, including the following information:

  • Details of the incident:
  • Time, date and location of the incident
  • All vehicles and drivers involved
  • A description of the events that occurred
  • The accident report:
  • Name, badge number and contact information of the investigating officer
  • Copy of the accident report
  • Insurance information:
  • Name of the insurance provider
  • Insurance policy number
  • Vehicle information, such as the make, model and license plate number

It is also important to provide any relevant witness information if available, including name, contact information and details of what they saw. Having this information readily available can help ensure that the accident is reported accurately and quickly.

Additionally, it is important to keep records of all communication with the insurance company, including emails, letters and phone conversations. Doing so can help ensure that all parties involved receive the information they need in a timely manner.

Negotiating with Insurance Adjusters

Negotiating with insurance adjusters is an important step in the process of settling motor vehicle collision disputes. After reporting the accident to the insurance provider, an adjuster will be assigned to the case and contact the claimant. It is important to understand that the adjuster works for the insurance company, and is not an advocate of the claimant. The adjuster is responsible for evaluating the claim and negotiating a settlement offer with the claimant.

The negotiation process can be complex and involve several rounds of bargaining. The claimant must be aware of the laws and regulations related to the accident and have reasonable expectations for the settlement. The table below summarizes key elements of the negotiation process, including the responsibilities of the adjuster and the claimant.

Adjuster’s ResponsibilitiesClaimant’s Responsibilities

Investigate and evaluate the claimResearch applicable laws and regulations

Negotiate a settlement offerProvide evidence and documents to support the claim

Offer a settlementNegotiate for the best possible outcome

Explain the terms of the settlementReview and accept the settlement offer
Finalize the agreement and close the case.

Filing a Lawsuit in Court

When considering legal action in the context of drunk driving accident claims, it is important to assess the extent of the damage and the potential for compensation.

An attorney should be consulted to understand the legal implications of the particular case and to advise on the best course of action for the victim.

It is important to consider the available legal remedies, such as civil suits, criminal charges, and personal injury claims.

a wooden judge's block sitting on top of a wooden table.

When to Consider Legal Action

Taking legal action can be an effective way to obtain compensation in the aftermath of a serious event, such as a drunk driving accident. Before taking this step, it is important to consider if it is the best option available.

Legally suing another party can be a lengthy, expensive, and emotionally draining process, so it is important to consider all the possible options before making a decision.

In general, it is best to consult a legal professional to determine if legal action is the appropriate course of action. A lawyer can evaluate the situation and provide advice on the different legal strategies that may be available.

If a lawsuit is deemed necessary, the lawyer can provide assistance with the process. It is important to be aware that some states have statutes of limitations for filing lawsuits, so legal action should be taken soon after the accident.

Additionally, the lawyer can help assess the strength of the case and advise on the potential outcome.

The Role of an Attorney in Drunk Driving Accident Cases

In drunk driving accident cases, an attorney can be instrumental in navigating the legal process and achieving a successful outcome.

An attorney is responsible for representing the claimant in court and can assist them in gathering evidence to support their case.

They may also provide advice on their legal rights and represent them in negotiations with insurance companies and other parties involved in the case.

An attorney can also help the claimant understand the complexities of the legal system and the potential outcomes of their case.

An attorney can also provide advice and insight on the type of damages that may be sought and the amount of compensation that could be awarded.

They can also help the claimant to understand the need for obtaining medical treatment and the cost associated with it.

In addition, they can help the claimant to understand the importance of filing a timely claim, as well as how to best protect their legal rights when filing a claim.

An attorney can also provide guidance throughout the legal process and ensure that the claimant receives the best possible outcome.


The potential legal consequences of a drunk driving accident can be serious and victims may be able to seek compensation.

It is important to understand the various forms of liability, the types of damages that can be claimed, and the process for filing a claim with the insurance company or a lawsuit in court.

Victims should make sure to seek legal advice in order to ensure that their rights are protected and that they receive the full compensation to which they may be entitled.

Taking legal action can be a complex process, but doing so can provide victims with the financial security they need to recover from the accident and move forward with their lives.

If you have inquiries about your accident and personal injury, 1-800-Ask-Gary is here to help. This complimentary helpline can assist you in making decisions about selecting a physician or attorney for your circumstances. Get in touch with us today.