Are Drunk Drivers Always at Fault

Drunk driving is a criminal offense that can bring several unwanted consequences for the offender. Possible penalties include jail time, fines, and a temporary loss of driving privileges. But it is not always simple to determine fault when a drunk driver becomes involved in a traffic accident.

Establishing Fault

The central issue to the accident claims process is assigning fault. When most individuals consider who is at fault for an accident, they often blame one accident participant 100 percent. But things become more complicated when considering the fault concept from a legal perspective.

Both drivers may share legal fault when a car accident occurs. But determining which of the drivers bears the bulk of the responsibility is necessary to identify the person responsible for paying the victim damages.

Drinking while driving alone will not mark the driver as at fault for an accident. But the intoxication level of the driver does increase the likelihood of him or her becoming culpable for damages.

Traffic laws govern the behavior of drivers on the road. When an accident happens because a driver violated a traffic rule, some level of fault is present. So technically, an intoxicated driver is always “at fault” in an accident. However, a court may consider obedience to all traffic laws by both drivers before deciding who is responsible for the damages.

Suing for Damages When a Driver is Drunk

Many accidents that involve a drunk driver play out in criminal court. But this fact does not prevent a civil lawsuit by the other driver involved in the accident.

Drunk driving accidents are often more severe than other types of accidents. One factor contributing to drunk driving accident severity is the inability of some drunk drivers to control speed. When combined with the decreased reaction times common to intoxicated drivers, a deadly set of circumstances occurs.

Some individuals involved in an accident with a drunk driver do not understand that criminal and civil courts operate independently. This fact causes additional confusion when a criminal court orders a drunk driver to pay restitution following a car accident.

This restitution is a punishment ordered by the criminal court to address the criminal actions of the defendant. This monetary compensation ordered for the other driver has nothing to do with a civil court award or a settlement offer from an insurance company.

Steps to Take after an Accidents with a Drunk Driver

Safety is the top priority after an accident. Drivers should perform a quick check of themselves for visible injuries before doing the same for the passengers in their cars. If possible, move the vehicles to a safe location.

The court system, as well as insurance companies, is tough on drunk drivers. When accidents involving drunk drivers occur, it is important to collect as much evidence as possible. Evidence gathering possibilities include:

  • Documenting the accident scene with photos, video, or audio. Preserving as much of this information as possible immediately after an accident can prove very beneficial later if you sue the driver.
  • Obtaining a copy of the police report. This report will provide details like who was driving each car. The report will also include the officer’s opinions regarding the cause of the accident.
  • Statements of witnesses and passengers in both vehicles.

Get Legal Help

Establishing fault in an automobile accident is not the cut and dry issue that many people believe. These situations can sometimes involve complex rules and regulations that are extremely difficult for a layperson to navigate. Talking to a car accident attorney is often the best bet for car accident victims to hold a drunk driver liable for their negligence. Many law professionals in this practice area like this Columbus car accident lawyer often offer a free, no-strings-attached consultation and charge no fees unless they win your case.

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