When a driver commits a DUI and causes the death of an innocent motorist, passenger or pedestrian, they have acted grossly negligent. When a drunken person gets behind the wheel, they are turning their vehicle into a weapon, and one they have little control over. Aggressive education has kept people informed about the risks of drinking and driving, but people are still surprised at how quickly their driving abilities erode after just a few drinks. That’s likely a major reason why more than 10,000 people are still killed every year by drunk drivers. And the problem is worse in Texas, where the fatality rate per 100,000 people is nearly twice as high compared to the national average.
WHAT CAN A FAMILY DO IF A DUI CAUSES THE DEATH OF A LOVED ONE?
When an irresponsible driver kills others due to grossly poor judgment, they are responsible for some heavy damages. In general, these people have little chance in court to withstand a lawsuit, as most people who commit a DUI related death have already been charged with a related crime in the past. Police reports and witness testimony are usually all that’s needed to demonstrate the defendant’s culpability.
However, claims are often complicated by the presence of additional defendants and when determining the extent of the damages. For example, the driver may attempt to shift blame to the bar that sold them drinks, or a friend who lent them a car. Anyone who helps the driver attain access to a car can also be culpable for the incident, especially if the other party knew that the driver might operate a vehicle while under the influence.
An experienced personal injury attorney will know how to approach a claim that involves multiple defendants, and can use it to the victims’ advantage. With multiple defendants, it may be more likely that the victims will receive the compensation they are due, as a single driver might not be able to provide adequate restitution.
It’s a painful process that can feel dehumanizing at times, but it is important that the victims calculate the damages left behind by a DUI related death. The defendant’s attorneys will take advantage of a family that doesn’t prepare for settlement negotiations, resulting in less compensation that the family should be entitled to. This is another area where a personal injury attorney can provide much needed insight. In the wake of an incident, the family is entitled to many forms of restitution. This includes economic damages, like the loss of the victim’s expected earnings, benefits, and any inheritance. Emotional damages are also involved, and include mental anguish, loss of care and protection, along with the loss of companionship. It’s impossible to put a number on this, but it has to be done, and an attorney can do so with sensitivity in mind.
There’s nothing worse than losing a loved one, but a family doesn’t have to face the legal shockwaves alone.