Car accidents are always frustrating, especially when someone is at fault. However, it can be incredibly infuriating when the at-fault driver causes the accident while under the influence of drugs. Suppose you suffered injuries and property damage or lost a loved one to a drugged driver. In that case, a car accident lawyer can help you recover the compensation you need to regain your life by fighting for your rights under personal injury law.
Criminal Offense vs. Civil Offense in Car Accident Case Involving Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence of drugs is a criminal offense, punishable by jail time and fines in criminal court regardless of whether an accident occurred or anyone suffered injuries. However, when someone driving under the influence of drugs causes an accident that results in injuries and property damage for someone else, such as a driver, passenger, pedestrian, motorcyclist, or bicyclist, the driver under the influence could face criminal and civil charges simultaneously.
Lawsuits involving personal injury law, also known as tort law, fall under the jurisdiction of civil court. Therefore, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver at the same time that they face charges in criminal court. However, there are significant differences between the two:
- Criminal court requires a higher burden of proof, meaning the evidence must show that the defendant is guilty of driving under the influence of drugs beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Civil court only requires the plaintiff to prove that the defendant more likely than not caused the accident that resulted in injuries.
- The victims in a criminal case do not receive any compensation through criminal court.
- In a civil case, victims can recover their losses from the at-fault driver’s insurance company in the form of damages.
Essentially, filing a lawsuit in civil against the at-fault is not to hold them accountable for being under the influence. Instead, it is to prove they are liable for your losses.
Can the Massachusetts No-Fault Auto Insurance Laws Impact Your Claim?
Massachusetts and only a few other states have a no-fault auto insurance requirement for car accidents involving personal injury. The state mandates that every driver carry personal injury protection insurance. If an accident occurs, they must file a claim with their policy to recover damages. However, there are limitations to the coverage. For example, suppose your injuries amass medical bills that exceed $2,000, or you suffer an injury that causes permanent disfigurement, loss of hearing or sight, or broken bones. In that case, you can bypass the no-fault system and a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
When you file a lawsuit, you no longer have the damages restrictions of no-fault insurance. For example, your no-fault claim only covers medical expenses, 75% of lost income, and necessary replacement services, such as household help while you recover. However, if you file a lawsuit, you can recover 100% of your lost income, medical expenses, replacement services, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help With Your Case
Car accidents are the most prominent form of personal injury cases. As a result, personal injury lawyers regularly help car accident victims recover their losses. They have seen cases with a wide range of circumstances, including victims of drivers who were under the influence at the time of the crash. Before you file a lawsuit, consider some of the advantages of hiring a car accident lawyer:
- You can focus on healing from your injuries while your attorney handles all conversations with the insurance adjuster.
- They will use their negotiation skills to help you reach a fast and fair settlement.
- They can ensure that your claim adequately reflects the losses you sustained.
- They will investigate the accident to find evidence of the negligent driver’s connection to your losses.
- You will not need to complete or file any necessary paperwork because your attorney will do it for you.
- They prepare your case for trial if negotiations do not result in a fair settlement.
- They draft and send the demand letter with all the details of the accident, your negligence claims, and a list of damages you should recover.
- They will protect you from anyone attempting to violate your right to compensation and ensure you understand each step of the legal process.
- Your attorney acts as a professional representative as well as a compassionate friend.
Car accident attorneys generally work on contingency. You can schedule an initial consultation for free and get answers to your questions. If you decide to work together, you have the benefit of peace of mind knowing that they confidently feel they can secure a settlement.
What To Look for in the Immediate Aftermath of the Accident
In the immediate aftermath, you will often notice signs when the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Tell the officer and your attorney if you notice any unusual smells, such as alcohol on the driver’s breath or marijuana. The driver may try to mask it with mints, breath spray, or gum, but the smell is difficult to hide. Did you see them using eye drops? Certain drugs affect the eyes’ appearance, and someone under the influence may use drops to mask that sign.
Sometimes the signs are more prominent. For example, did they try to exchange seats with someone else in the vehicle immediately following the collision? Perhaps you noticed them disposing of something quickly right after the crash occurred. These are all potential signs of someone trying to avoid a DUI or OUI charge.
Drugged Driving Accidents and Punitive Damages
Compensatory damages are a standard part of every personal injury lawsuit. You can claim medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in cases where your injuries impacted your physical and psychological well-being.
However, punitive damages are only available in cases where the at-fault driver‘s actions constitute gross negligence, displaying a complete disregard for the safety of others. Driving under the influence of drugs can warrant an award of punitive damages, especially if the accident and injuries are severe. The court may decide to punish the defendant for their behavior.
Schedule Your Free Consultation With a Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you suffered injuries or lost someone you love because of an accident caused by a driver under the influence of drugs, that driver will face the consequences through criminal court. However, that process does not produce financial compensation for your losses. A car accident lawyer has expertise in tort law, which allows you to recover your damages through the civil court in a separate lawsuit. You can schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer any time after the collision.
At Jason Stone Injury Lawyers, we understand the devastation and frustration this type of car accident can cause. You deserve the chance to hold the driver accountable for their gross negligence beyond the criminal charges they will face. We offer our services at no upfront cost to ensure you have the legal representation you need. Our promises to our clients are in the Stone Cold Guarantee, and the first element states that we only receive payment for our services when you receive compensation for your losses. Contact Jason Stone Injury Lawyers at (800) 577-5188 to schedule your free case evaluation today. There’s No Obligation, Just Information (R).