I Was Hit And Injured By A Driver Who Was Under The Influence Of Drugs Or Alcohol. How Will That Affect My Personal Injury Claim?

by Brett C. Drouet on Jun. 06, 2022

Accident & Injury Accident & Injury  Car Accident Accident & Injury  Personal Injury 

Summary: It depends on how intoxicated the person was. If they were found to be impaired, it could affect the types of claims that you can bring against them. If someone is so impaired that they are legally intoxicated, they could be held responsible based on the negligence per se. This essentially means that they have violated a vehicle code or a criminal statute, which makes them legally responsible for the accident. If that has been established, then they are automatically considered liable for a personal injury claim. The case will just be a matter of proving what damages you’ve suffered through your injuries.

I Was Hit And Injured By A Driver Who Was Under The Influence Of Drugs Or Alcohol. How Will That Affect My Personal Injury Claim?

This depends on how intoxicated the person was. If they were found to be impaired, it could affect the types of claims that you can bring against them. If someone is so impaired that they are legally intoxicated, they could be held responsible based on the negligence per se. This essentially means that they have violated a vehicle code or a criminal statute, which makes them legally responsible for the accident. If that has been established, then they are automatically considered liable for a personal injury claim. The case will just be a matter of proving what damages you’ve suffered through your injuries.

Also, depending on how intoxicated the person was (and whether they have had multiple instances of driving while intoxicated), you may have a right to punitive damages against the intoxicated driver. These may entitle you to far more financial damages than you would have been awarded otherwise.

Ultimately, being injured by someone who was under the influence is like any other accident-based injury, except that there is the egregious component of a person that is driving in a way that is reckless. This will only help your case rather than harm it.

Do Criminal Actions Against An Impaired Or Drunk Driver Have To Be Completed To File A Civil Personal Injury Suit Against Them?

You can file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver at any time, so long as it is within the statute of limitations. You may have to wait to be able to conduct discovery or go to trial with the driver if there is still a pending criminal action against them. This is because of the driver’s Fifth Amendment rights, which in some situations gives them the right to refuse to answer questions in civil discovery or have their deposition taken in a civil action until the corresponding criminal matter against them has been resolved. It’s very common to have filed a lawsuit and then have the lawsuit stayed until the completion of the criminal trial. However, that doesn’t stop you prosecuting the case, taking depositions of investigating officers, taking depositions of witnesses to the accident, and other elements of case building. You may simply have to wait until the driver has gone through the criminal process before you can proceed in discovery against them.

As A Personal Injury Attorney Representing A Drunk Driver’s Victim In A Civil Case, Do You Have Access To All Discovery As A Result Of The Criminal Investigation Against The Driver?

I have access to some elements of criminal actions against drunk drivers. As one example, if there have been police reports or investigative reports revealed in discovery against the drunk driver, I would have access to them.

Are Personal Injury Cases Involving Impaired, Drunk Drivers Or High Drivers More Complex Or Difficult Than Other Personal Injury Cases?

Yes, they can be. For one thing, the level of intoxication of the driver is not always clear, particularly with marijuana. It’s difficult to determine how intoxicated someone is from marijuana through blood and lab testing. You can tell that they ingested marijuana, but you really can’t tell how much.

These cases can also get complicated in other ways. For instance, it can sometimes be difficult to discern what type of claims you can bring. There are also third parties that can be responsible for a drunk driver, depending on the circumstances. The complexity really comes down to navigating through the criminal process as well, so you can obtain evidence and preserve that evidence until you can actually proceed in civil discovery.

I Was Partially At Fault For An Accident Involving A Drunk Or Impaired Driver In Which I Was Injured. Does Comparative Or Contributory Negligence Still Apply?

If you’re partially at fault for a collision, the drunk driver has a right to point to that fact. If the jury finds that you have some responsibility for the accident, then whatever percentage of liability you held would be reduced from your damages. For instance, if the jury’s found that you were 10% at fault and the drunk driver was 90% at fault, then you’d be able to recover 90% of your damages.

Does A Driver Being Impaired Automatically Mean They’re At Fault In A Personal Injury Case?

No. You can be impaired and not be negligent. You have to prove that they did something wrong, and were negligent, in addition to being impaired.

Now, driving while intoxicated is another story. It is a crime and is a violation of the vehicle code. However, you do have to be able to prove that that violation was the reason you were injured. So for instance, if the driver was drunk or intoxicated and they were in a parked car, and you run right into them with a bicycle, they’re not going to be held responsible if they’re legally parked. In that case, it does not matter that they were intoxicated.

So, you have to be able to show that that intoxication was the reason you were injured, which requires them to have made a driving error. For instance, if they ran a red light because they were intoxicated and they injured you, that would be showing causation with respect to the intoxication causing your injury.

For more information on Personal Injury Law in California, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (626) 644-1755 or (619) 844-6448 today.

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