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Legal Options After Being Hit by a Drunk Driver

In 2010, more than 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Additionally, nearly one-third of the U.S. adult population self-identifies as having driven while impaired by alcohol each year. The risk that impaired drivers place others in is often understated. When driving impaired, a driver’s reflexes are slowed and his or her judgment is compromised. As a result, states are taking a tougher stance against drunk driving. Recently, the State of Utah reduced it’s per se BAC limit from 0.08 to 0.05. This means that if your BAC is 0.05 or higher, you are deemed to be driving while intoxicated regardless of any challenge you may bring regarding your capacity. If you’ve been the victim of a drunk driver, then you know all too well the threat that drunk driving poses to others on the road. However, you may not be aware of your legal options after being hit by a drunk driver.

If you’ve been hit by a drunk driver, you can bring a personal injury lawsuit to recover for damages suffered as a result of the wreck. However, you cannot bring a criminal action against a drunk driver. Criminal prosecution is a power reserved by the state. Thus, while the prosecutor may consult with you regarding the drunk driving case, the prosecutor is not bound to honor your wishes or act in a certain way as directed by you. As a civilian, your legal options reside fully within the civil courts.

When bringing a personal injury lawsuit, you can recover a variety of damages resulting from your injury. Damages seek to compensate you for your injury. While damages cannot turn back the clock, they can help you with expenses and life-changing circumstances. Some claimable damages include:

  • Out of pocket medical expenses – Any expenses that you incurred as a result of the wreck may be claimed as damages.

  • Future medical expenses – Any expenses which you will be required to incur as a result of your injuries may be claimed as damages. For individuals suffering substantial injury, future medical expenses may be the most important damages to recover.

  • Personal property damage – any personal property that was damaged in the wreck may be claimed as damages. This includes your car and smaller items, such as a phone which may have been destroyed.

  • Lost wages – Any foregone earnings as a result of the wreck may be claimed as damages. For example, if you were unable to go to work for two weeks following the wreck and had to forego $2,000 in pay, then you may be able to claim that $2,000 as damages.

Proving damages is a complex legal process that requires a skilled personal injury attorney. If you have been injured by a drunk driver, consult an experienced personal injury attorney near you to discuss your legal options.