When a car accident involves a drunk driver, new factors arise that can affect the claim. Being aware of this information can help an accident victim or his or her family make informed decisions throughout the claims process.
(Article continues below Infographic)
In Nevada, it is illegal for anyone to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher. If the person is a commercial driver, a 0.04 percent BAC is the illegal blood limit while the limit is only 0.02 percent for drivers younger than 21. These are the per se limits that if a person is at then the law assumes that the person’s driving is impaired. However, arrests can still be made when the person’s BAC is below this limit if his or her driving was impaired. If the person’s BAC shows any detectable amount of an illegal drug, a DUI charge can also be issued.
A drunk driving accident attorney Las Vegas can explain that the criminal implications of drunk driving are different than the civil implications of a personal injury suit based on drunk driving. It may also be possible to have varying results where a person is found not guilty of the crime but guilty of the civil suit. This is often due to different burdens of proof. To be convicted of a crime, a person must be proved guilty of each element of the crime by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In contrast, the civil burden of proof is much lower – by the preponderance of the evidence. This legal standard simply means that things are more likely than not the way that the plaintiff alleges.
Dram Shop Laws
In Nevada, dram shop laws may apply to drunk driving cases, but only if the driver was under 21 at the time of the accident. Dram shop laws penalize establishments that serve alcohol such as bars or clubs to a person, knowing that the person is already inebriated. These laws also extend to social hosts so that a person hosting a party where alcohol is served can be held legally liable for injuries that result in a drunk driving accident caused by a guest. While lawmakers have sought to modify the laws in Nevada, only establishments or social hosts who serve alcohol to someone under the age of 21 can be held civilly liable for injuries that result.
Although a person being drunk at the time of an accident weighs in favor of the other driver, the injured victim still must establish fault. Fault is established by showing that some negligent action or lack of action by the drunk driver directly caused the action. Examples of negligent acts that can lead to motor vehicle accidents include:
- Switching lanes without signaling
- Weaving between lanes
- Not looking before turning
- Not yielding to oncoming traffic
The insurance company that insures the drunk driver may spend considerable sums of money to negate the driver’s negligence even if he or she was drunk. Insurance companies have a vested interest in denying as many claims as possible to minimize payouts. This helps keep the insurance companies wealthier. Even though a drunk driver may have caused the accident, the victim through his or her legal counsel must still show negligence.
Another important factor that a drunk driving accident attorney Las Vegas can explain about drunk driving accidents is the potential for large damages. Many drunk driving accidents involve drivers who have slow reaction times and may be unaware of upcoming dangers. As such, speeds are often higher and the impact is often greater. Injuries may be more severe, resulting in exorbitant medical expenses. It may take longer for victims to recover and return to work. Victims can request maximum damages for medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity and pain and suffering that a drunk driving accident attorney Las Vegas can pursue on their behalf.
Many drunk driving accidents result in the death of the victim. The victim’s family may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the drunk driver. This type of lawsuit seeks damages such as loss of support and loss of companionship that a victim’s loved ones must endure due to the victim’s death. A personal injury attorney represents the family’s interests in this type of case.
Faster Settlement Offers
In drunk driving cases, the insurance company representing the drunk driver may push for a faster settlement than in other cases. The insurance company may believe that negligence is clear and may want to avoid the risk of going to trial and having an unsympathetic defendant on the stand that a jury will ultimately want to punish. Due to the possibility of receiving a faster settlement offer, it is important for a victim to have the help of a drunk driving accident attorney Las Vegas.