When a drunk driver has killed someone, they will likely face a lifetime of severe consequences. The civil case may be the least of their worries, as they will almost certainly face criminal charges as well. And while criminal judgment may bring the victim’s family some manner of closure, it won’t protect the family financially. Whenever a family loses a parent or child, the pain is immeasurable, and while financial concerns pale in comparison to the emotional pain, a family does have a right to compensation from the negligent party. In many cases, an accident claim will involve other defendants as well, and this may help prevent future incidents.
WHAT IS THE LEGAL PROCESS WHEN A DRUNK DRIVER HAS KILLED SOMEONE?
If an inebriated motorist has caused a wreck bad enough to cause fatal injury, they will have little in the way of a defense. Police responding to the accident will note right away that the motorist is intoxicated and will record this in all relevant reports. The motorist will be arrested and charges filed. There will, in short, be nowhere for an intoxicated motorist to hide if they cause a fatal crash.
Inebriated motorists almost never avoid liability for the damages they cause. As soon as someone gets behind the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence, they are breaching an important duty of care. As intoxicated motorists cannot control their speed or pay attention to changing road conditions reliably, they are not fit to operate a vehicle. This constitutes a clear example of negligence and means that an intoxicated motorist will be reliable for civil damages as well as criminal consequences.
But even though liability is often clearly defined when a drunk driver has killed someone, there may be other parties involved in the claim as mentioned previously. This may include a local bar that served the motorist too much alcohol and did nothing to prevent the motorist from leaving. It may also include someone that lent their vehicle to the defendant, knowing that they might become intoxicated and operate the vehicle. As a single motorist is unlikely to have the assets or insurance to compensate the family adequately, an attorney will investigate the incident thoroughly to determine if others share responsibility for the crash.
An attorney can also guide a difficult settlement process, ensuring that all of the family’s interests are accounted for. When a drunk driver has killed someone, they may have taken away a primary breadwinner or someone responsible for care or counsel. It is difficult to determine the “worth” of such damages, but an attorney will work hard to determine a fair and reasonable value of the case.
Losing a loved one is a painful tragedy, and is one of the toughest things a family will ever have to go through. But with an attorney’s help, the irresponsible driver will be held accountable for their actions.