Drinking and driving is prohibited because of the effects alcohol has on one’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. There are differences between a typical car accident claim and one which involves a drunk driver, most notably police involvement. A Cook County drunk driving accident lawyer could attempt to obtain the police file which will assist in proving a claim for damages against the drunk driver.
While a drunk driving accident can happen anywhere and at any time, there are certain patterns which develop. Most drunk driving accidents happen in the evening between midnight and 3:00 AM. Individuals under 30 years old make up a majority of those arrested for driving while intoxicated and it is more prevalent in heavily populated areas than in rural areas.
In order to make a recovery for personal injuries after a drunk driving crash, a Cook County attorney must prove that someone else is legally responsible. If someone is intoxicated and causes an accident, it is relatively easy to prove that the person is liable for any injuries. If the person who is intoxicated causes the accident, there will be no financial recovery for them.
If someone was sitting at a red light and happened to be intoxicated, and was rear-ended by another driver, that person would be entitled to a recovery even though they were drunk. Their intoxication did not affect how the accident occurred.
In a drunk driving accident, an injured person is entitled to economic damages, which are elements of injuries which can be easily calculated, such as medical bills and lost wages. An individual injured by a drunk driver is also entitled to noneconomic damages, which are more subjective. In some circumstances, the drunk driver may be liable for punitive damages if they were acting recklessly and caused an accident.
If the injured driver is partially responsible, they can still make a recovery against the drunk driver so long as the drunk driver is more than 50% at fault. An accident may be a combination of fault between the injured party and the drunk driver. As long as the injured driver is less than 50% at fault, they can still make a recovery. If the injured driver is more than 50% at fault, then they are not entitled to a financial settlement, even if the other driver was drunk.
When someone causes an accident while they are drunk, they likely receive a ticket, which comes from the state and not the injured person. The prosecutor represents the people of the state and is responsible for pressing charges against a drunk driver. If someone is involved in an accident with a drunk driver, they are considered a complaining witness and they do not have discretion as to whether charges are pressed. The prosecutor will contact them if their presence is needed in court. A Cook County intoxicated driving accident lawyer could further explain what is required of a plaintiff.
The criminal case for DUI is handled separately from the civil case for damages. In a criminal case, the judge can punish an individual with jail time, a fine, or impose some consequence on their driver’s license, while in a civil case, the injured party is entitled to recover monetary damages. The cases are completely distinct and the outcome of one is not determinative on the outcome of the other.
Only the state’s attorney or prosecutor can press charges against the drunk driver. The injured driver has a civil claim for damages but the decision to charge someone with a criminal offense of DUI is entirely within the discretion of the prosecutor.
While most DUI arrests are made under state law, some municipalities have their own local laws as well. In either of these situations, it is the prosecutor who has the authority to pursue criminal charges against the drunk driver.
You have the ability to file a lawsuit against an intoxicated driver if they caused you injury. Reach out to a Cook County drunk driving accident lawyer as soon as possible.