How to File a Lawsuit Against a Drunk Driver After an Auto Accident
After most vehicle accidents, the injured victim may seek damages from the negligent motorist – even if there is more than one – who caused or in any way contributed to the wreck. If one of the drivers was negligent because law enforcement suspects he or she was intoxicated at the time of the accident, the odds of any damage claims against that negligent driver being successful become significantly higher.
Vehicle accident claims against a drunk driver can become quite complicated, and sometimes contentious. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help work through these issues, and also try to get the victim as much compensation as possible.
HOW WILL A LAWSUIT AGAINST A DRUNK DRIVER PROCEED THROUGH THE COURT?
The first thing a victim needs to do after a crash is seek medical attention. If the victim is seriously injured, he/she will be taken to a hospital’s trauma unit and potentially be admitted. Law officials arriving at the accident scene will file a report which reveals whether the negligent motorist was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the wreck.
If this is the case, the injured victim(s) of that drunk driver should speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
As with other types of civil actions, there is a statute of limitations for filing a claim. To understand the deadline(s) that apply to your potential claim(s), as well as the relationship between a criminal action against the drunk driver with a civil action, you should speak to one or more experienced personal injury lawyers as soon as possible.
Assuming you hire a lawyer to help you with your claim, they will typically begin by reviewing your initial medical treatment and assess the severity of your injuries, as well as that of any passengers in your vehicle. They will also want a complete download of the information you can provide from the scene of the accident, including insurance information, photos, witness information, what was said, etc. Then it shifts to their own investigation. Your legal team will obtain the crash report, vehicle history reports, driver record reports, etc., and also work with law enforcement investigating the alleged drunk driver’s illegal and negligent behavior. In general, if the defendant broke the law while injuring someone, the injured plaintiff’s case usually becomes much stronger.
If the victim’s injuries were caused by the accident, the attorney will measure their “worth” and put together a demand package.
Your attorney also has access to a wide range of experts needed to assess the worth of your injuries to create the most reliable and most authoritative demand package. It is then sent to the negligent defendant’s liability auto insurer. Most accidents caused by drunk drivers end up in a settlement, as it is extremely challenging for a drunk driver to win in court, especially if they are convicted of any criminal charges.
Even without a criminal conviction, no more than 3% of drunk driving injury claims go to trial, and the defendant’s insurance company settles because it doesn’t want to take its chances in court.
If your lawyer is unable to negotiate a fair settlement, they may file suit.
After filing a lawsuit, the case enters what can be a lengthy discovery and deposition phase. During this period, both sides request information from the other and begin taking the deposition of the relevant parties; this would include you, the negligent motorist(s), and any witnesses to the accident. During deposition, the defendant’s attorneys will attempt to discredit and undermine your claim, usually by asserting that your injuries were not caused by the wreck, or are not as severe as you claim them to be. Depositions will be presented to the court, so it is essential to counter any attempts to cast doubt on you. A personal injury attorney will assist you through this process and also represent you in court, ensuring that the case is in good hands every step of the way.
Dram Shop Law Compensates Drunk Driving Accident Victims
The Texas Dram Shop Act holds bars and restaurants liable for selling alcohol to their drunk customers. The person suing the bar must prove that the driver who hit them was intoxicated to the extent of being a danger to themselves or others when they were served alcohol. So if a server at a bar or restaurant served alcohol to someone he or she “reasonably” knew was intoxicated, the server, bartender, manager, and even the owner of the establishment can be sued for damages in a “third-party lawsuit.”
A lawsuit filed against a drunk driver may seem like a simple process, but a victim will still need to be prepared entirely to order to secure maximum compensation.
With the help of an attorney, the victim can be comfortable knowing that their case will be handled professionally and will return the best judgment possible.
If a drunk driver has injured you or any member of your family, take legal action separate from the government’s criminal case against the drunk driver. You can seek full and fair financial damages from everyone who contributed to this accident. Make an appointment for a free consultation with a drunk driving accident lawyer at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law today.
Call our toll-free number or contact us online to arrange your free consultation. We will help you understand your legal options.