Criminal Prosecution vs. Personal Injury in Drunk Driving Cases (Part 2 of 2)

In our previous post, we discussed a scenario where you and your family were in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. As is often the case, the other driver winds up being charged with DUI. People sometimes get confused as to what that means for them if they are injured, and so we discussed some of the principal differences between the criminal case and a claim for your personal injuries. Here is a brief summary of the points we discussed:

  • The criminal case against the driver is brought by the government, based on the fact that he broke the law. He will face possible jail time and fines, as well as other penalties.  
  • A personal injury lawsuit is based on the victim’s claim for damages arising from the accident, such as medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.  
  • Criminal cases have a much higher standard of proof that is required in a personal injury lawsuit. Therefore, you could prevail in a personal injury lawsuit even if the criminal case is dismissed.  

In this post, we want to cover some additional considerations if you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver.  

Why You Should Pursue a Claim

If the other driver is convicted he may face significant fines and even go to jail. Many people think that the other driver would, therefore, be unable to pay their claim, and so they don’t move forward with a personal injury lawsuit. As a result, these people miss out on thousands of dollars of compensation that they are legitimately entitled to receive.  

First, it’s important to keep in mind that the driver probably has insurance. In that case, your claim is likely to be paid by his insurance company even if the driver is broke and in jail.  

Second, you need to realize that the criminal prosecution isn’t going to do anything for you. Even if the driver is ordered to pay restitution, it’s unlikely to cover all of your expenses caused by the accident, and it won’t cover your pain and suffering.  

Third, your injuries may require ongoing treatment, and could permanently affect your quality of life and your family’s financial future.

Timing

If you’ve decided that you need to file a personal injury lawsuit, it’s important to give some consideration to the timing of when you file your lawsuit. If the other driver is convicted, this would obviously help your case. In addition, you may become aware of other witnesses or evidence you didn’t know about as a result of the criminal case.  

On the other hand, the longer you wait to file your lawsuit, the harder it may be to collect evidence, contact witnesses, or simply remember what happened. In addition, you also need to keep in mind that Georgia has a two-year statute of limitations in personal injury cases. While the criminal case is likely to be resolved by then, it can take several months to play out and the deadline for filing can arrive sooner than you expect.  

Contact an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney Today

Too many people suffer as the result of drunk driving – the injuries can be severe, and change victim’s lives forever. If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, you owe it to yourself to at least talk to a lawyer. The attorneys at Slappey & Sadd can evaluate your claim, explain your options, and give you advice as to how to proceed. If you’d like a free consultation, contact us at 404-255-6677 or send us an email.   

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