If You Are in an Accident With A Drunk Driver, Can You Press Charges?
One of the most dangerous behaviors is driving while intoxicated. In fact, drunk driving takes thousands of lives every year, and causes many more accidents and injuries.
Being in a car accident is a terrifying experience, and may be one that leaves a victim with serious long-term injuries. Which is why following a car accident, knowing one’s legal rights is important. If you have been hit by a drunk driver, here is what you should know about pressing charges and filing a claim.
The State Will Press Criminal Charges
In regards to criminal consequences and penalties, this is not something you need to worry about as a drunk driving accident victim; the state is responsible for pressing charges, bringing a case against the defendant, and carrying out sentencing if the defendant is found to be guilty. Because drinking and driving is against the law, the defendant will likely be arrested at the accident scene if there is probable cause to do so.
You May File a Civil Claim
Again, you can not bring forth criminal charges; this is something that the state does. The outcome of a criminal case is different and separate from the outcome of a civil case, and the two do not have a direct influence on one another (although you may use a criminal conviction as evidence of fault in a civil case). A criminal case will result in criminal consequences (like jail time), but will not yield any financial compensation for a victim of a crime.
That being said, if you have been harmed in a drunk driving accident, you do maintain the right to bring forth a civil claim for damages against the defendant. Your claim will allege that the driver was drunk at the time of the accident, that drunkenness was the cause of their negligent behavior (speeding, failure to yield, swerving, etc.), that the negligent behavior was the direct cause of your accident, and that you suffered harm as a direct result.
How the Claims Process Works
Typically, the claims process begins with the victim (claimant) filing a claim for damages with the defendant’s insurer. The insurer will then open an investigation into the case and offer the claimant an amount that they find reasonable in the form of a settlement. At this point, you can either accept or reject a settlement offer. If you reject the settlement, you can renegotiate it. If a fair settlement can not be reached, then you may file a lawsuit for compensation.
Jumping straight to a lawsuit without attempting to settle the claim out of court first is not advised; lawsuits are expensive and can take months or years to resolve.
Call Our Pearland Personal Injury Lawyers Today to Learn More
To learn more about your rights after being harmed by a drunk driver, reach out to our Pearland personal injury attorneys at the law offices of Scott M. Brown & Associates. Our legal team can assist you in your pursuit of compensation, helping you to prove fault and damages. Call us today or send us a message for your consultation.