Were You a Victim of a Drunk Driver Accident? Know Your Rights
Drunk driving is one of the most common reasons fatal car accidents happen in Alabama. A drunk driver does not have the facilities to properly control a motor vehicle or make sound driving decisions. Every 48 minutes in 2017, one person died in a drunk driving crash in the U.S. The total number of drunk driving deaths that year was 10,874. If a drunk driver recently collided with you in Alabama, learn your rights so you can better protect them during the claims process.
The Right to Press Charges
After a drunk driving accident, call the police for assistance. The police can arrange medical care if you have any injuries and stay to investigate the crash. An official police report could include statements from eyewitnesses, a description of the crash, the date, time and location. The police could also take important steps such as gauging the other driver’s drunkenness. A toxicology report after the accident could serve as proof that the driver was under the influence.
Driving under the influence (DUI) is against the law in Alabama. The legal limit is 0.08% blood alcohol concentration, but a lower percentage could still result in a DUI charge. The police will ask if you wish to press charges against the driver for drinking and driving and causing your accident. If you say yes, the prosecution will take this into account when determining whether to file charges.
You have the right to press charges and to cooperate with the police during the drunk driver’s criminal case. While it is not up to you to prosecute the drunk driver, your cooperation during an investigation and the criminal trial could strengthen the case against the at-fault driver. A criminal conviction could force the driver to pay you restitution for your damages, as well as serve time in jail and/or pay fines.
The Right to Demand Compensation
On top of criminal charges, a drunk driver in Alabama could also face civil repercussions for causing a car accident. It is up to you to file a civil claim against a drunk driver in pursuit of financial recovery. The city will not file this type of claim for you. Hire an attorney for assistance if you have never filed a personal injury claim before. Your lawyer can take care of confusing paperwork and filing processes while you heal from your accident injuries. Your lawyer could also help you prove the drunk driver’s fault for your accident.
- The drunk driver breached a duty of care owed to you. Driving drunk is a flagrant breach of every driver’s duty to drive responsibly. Proof of drunk driving could come in the form of Breathalyzer test results, urine samples, blood tests and/or field sobriety tests.
- The drunk driver caused your car accident. Your lawyer will need to show that the driver choosing to drive drunk is what ultimately caused your car crash. If you wrecked your car for other reasons, the other driver may not be liable for your damages – even if he or she was guilty of DUI.
- You suffered damages in the DUI crash. You must have compensable damages from the DUI accident, such as medical costs, property damage, lost income, physical pain or emotional suffering.
If your Birmingham drunk driving accident lawyer can prove these main elements, the drunk driver’s car insurance company may have to pay for your damages. You could receive a significant amount if the DUI crash caused permanent injuries or long-term medical care. Filing a civil claim against the at-fault driver is your right as a crash victim. You could also have the option of filing a claim against a third party for additional compensation, such as the shop that furnished the drunk driver with alcohol. Discuss all your rights with an attorney after a drunk driving accident for more information. Contact Salter Ferguson, LLC for more information.