Despite widespread awareness campaigns and harsh criminal penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol, drunk driving is still one of the biggest risks to motorists in Philadelphia, PA. If a driver is reckless or careless enough to get behind the wheel while they are impaired, they have a far greater risk of causing a serious accident and devastating damage to other people involved.
Civil cases based on car crashes caused by a drunk driver need to be handled with care and conviction, which is why retaining an experienced auto accident attorney could be beneficial. Being hit by a DUI driver in Philadelphia may change your tort status giving you full tort, meaning the best rights to recover for pain and suffering. If you suffered injury due to an intoxicated driver, consider talking to a Philadelphia drunk driving car accident lawyer about how you could potentially proceed with civil litigation to seek restitution for your damages.
How Could a Criminal Charge Affect a Civil Case?
In Pennsylvania, anyone who operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater may be charged with driving under the influence (DUI). Depending on a person’s BAC at the time of arrest, any previous record of DUI offenses, and other aggravating factors, punishments upon conviction may range from fines and probation to several years’ imprisonment and permanent loss of their license.
If a driver involved in an accident is cited for DUI in the aftermath, a Philadelphia drunk driving car crash attorney could cite the police report or a criminal conviction for that offense as evidence of negligence in an ensuing civil case. Since all drivers in Pennsylvania are expected to act reasonably and safely while driving on public roads, driving while intoxicated would constitute a negligent breach of that duty if it results in a catastrophic accident. A conviction or a diversionary program for a DUI driver is an automatic exception to your tort election in Pennsylvania, meaning you will be deemed full tort if the person is convicted or enters a diversionary program. Additionally, a DUI driver may be liable for punitive damages due to their actions in relation to your car crash – all aspects that a Philadelphia car accident lawyer will evaluate on your behalf.
While a civil defendant may be found liable based on overwhelming evidence, the standard of proof for criminal cases is considerably stricter. In practice, this means that regardless of what order the cases occur in, a finding of civil liability in a DUI car accident claim typically has no bearing on the outcome of a criminal case for a DUI charge.
Recovering Losses After a DUI Crash
Philadelphia is a no-fault car insurance state, which means that in order to recover for damages following a vehicle crash, a claimant must first pursue recovery through their own insurer to the fullest extent their coverage allows before they can file suit against a third party. Unfortunately, this means that unless certain circumstances apply, people injured in car accidents caused by drunk drivers can only seek restitution for economic damages like medical bills and lost wages, and not non-economic damages like loss of consortium and physical pain.
Furthermore, Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 42, §7102 allows a court to proportionately reduce a plaintiff’s total recoverable compensation if they are found partially at fault for their injuries, even if a drunk driver bears most of the fault for the accident. Once retained, a qualified DUI car crash attorney in Philadelphia could work on a claimants behalf to contest allegations of comparative fault and maximize recoverable damages.
Speak with a Philadelphia Drunk Driving Car Accident Attorney Today
Suffering injuries and financial losses due to a drunk driver can be frustrating and scary. Fortunately, legal counsel is available to help you enforce your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve.
Talking to a Philadelphia drunk driving car accident lawyer could clarify your legal options for you and put you on the right path toward recovering fully from your accident. Call today to set up an initial meeting and discuss your case.