DC Drunk Driving Accidents

Cases involving drunk drivers are typically different because they occur in a different way than most other motor vehicle accidents. DC drunk driver accidents typically occur in such a way that it is clear that the accident occurred due to the driver’s impairment by alcohol.

This means that the collisions can be much more severe because the driver does not break in advance of the collision or the actions of the impaired driver are so erratic that it does not make sense for the accident to occur but for the intoxication by the driver.

If you have been injured as the result of someone else’s drunk driving, get in touch with a dedicated car accident attorney who can devote the time and resources necessary to fight for a positive outcome for you.

Common Accidents

Drunk driving accidents in DC can occur at any time of the day, but there is a higher occurrence rate late at night after someone has been drinking for a long period of time and leaving a bar, restaurant, or party.

The other thing that happens in drunken driving accidents is that the accidents can sometimes involve a single vehicle, meaning the injured person is a passenger in the drunk driver’s vehicle and the drunk driver simply loses control of the vehicle, goes off the road, and has a collision.

If a person is offered a lesser charge and enters a plea of guilty or is offered a lesser charge and pays a fine, the payment of that fine may not be admissible as evidence to establish liability in the personal injury case.

Damages in Drunk Driving Incidents

Damages available to injured persons in DC drunk driving accidents include economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic damages is the legal term used to describe an objective form of damages that correlates with the costs of medical treatment incurred or future medical treatment as well as past or future lost wages.

Non-economic damages is a legal term used to describe a more subjective form of damages, which typically take the form of pain and suffering and inconvenience, but are generally much more specific to that particular person and the injuries sustained in that particular accident.

What Happens When the Injured Person Was Also the Drunk Driver?

An injured person injured due to their own negligence or bad act cannot recover damages. Generally, if the injured person is the impaired driver, they cannot recover for their injuries no matter how severe the injuries may be, even in the case of death.

If the injured person is responsible for their injuries at all, they are barred from recovery. If this person is even 1% responsible for the injuries, even if it involves a drunk driver, they are barred from recovery under the defense of contributory negligence or assumption of risk as opposed to comparative negligence.

Comparative negligence is a legal theory that is followed by the majority of the country, whereby the jury is allowed to attribute a certain percentage of fault to either the plaintiff or defendant and the jury’s award is apportioned based upon that percentage of fault.

In the District of Columbia, the courts do not follow comparative negligence, but the law in the District of Columbia is of contributory negligence. This means that the plaintiff’s claim is an all-or-nothing proposition.

This can come up when the injured person is traveling as a passenger in a vehicle operated by a drunk driver involved in a collision, either with another vehicle or a single car collision.

The drunk driver is allowed at trial to present evidence that the passenger knew or reasonably should have known that the driver was impaired by alcohol. Therefore, the passenger either assumed the risk of their injuries or contributed to their injuries by knowingly getting into a vehicle with an impaired driver.

Extent of Injured Party’s Involvement in the Legal Process

The injured party is involved in the legal process in that there must be a good working relationship between the injured person and their attorney.

A DC drunk driving accident attorney will explain to the injured person what, if any, information is required of them and it is the injured person’s job to supply this information. It is the attorney’s job to prosecute the claim through the legal process to obtain the best recovery possible for the injured person.

However, the injured party does not have to pursue a criminal case if they do not want to. A criminal conviction for drunk driving can help in terms of establishing liability, but it is not required for the injured person to establish liability.

Does DC Pursue Criminal Charges Even if the Injured Party Does Not?

An injured party is not typically involved in a criminal prosecution process. It is up to the United States Attorney or the District of Columbia to decide what, if any, criminal charges should be pressed against the drunk driver. The injured person may serve as a witness in that case.

A criminal case is completely separate from a civil case seeking personal injuries. In certain circumstances, the fact that a criminal case has occurred can at times be excluded from evidence in a civil case.

The United States Attorney may consult with the injured person and determine the intentions or the wishes of the injured person, but the determining factor lies with the United States Attorney handling the particular claim.

Value of an Attorney

A car accident can be a frightening and stressful experience. A drunk driving car accident can have lasting physical, emotional, and financial consequences as well. You should not have to deal with the consequences of someone’s reckless decision. If you have sustained an injury as the result of a drunk driver, contact a skilled DC drunk driving accident lawyer. A tenacious attorney can fight to protect your rights and hold all responsible parties accountable.