Most personal injury claims involve civil charges against the defendant, the individual who caused an accident due to their negligence or wrongdoing. Cases that involve a drunk or otherwise intoxicated driver, however, may also involve criminal charges since the at-fault motorist caused an accident while also breaking the law. This can affect your claim and the damages you are eligible to be reimbursed for. Our Woodstock DUI accident lawyers explain.
Calculating Damages in a DUI Accident Case
Before you can begin to calculate damages in a DUI accident claim, certain factors must be considered. It is important to look at your case from all angles with the help of your attorney so that you can receive the maximum compensation to cover your accident-related expenses.
Factors to Consider When Seeking Compensation
There are several elements worth considering when seeking compensation after a DUI car accident:
- Degree of fault: The drunk driver who caused your accident may receive a criminal conviction, which will prove that they were negligent and, therefore, at fault for the accident. However, you (or another driver if the crash involved more than two vehicles) might also receive some of the blame. This might occur if the drunk driver hit you while you were running a red light, for instance. In these cases, the amount of compensation you receive might be reduced to reflect your share of fault. For example, if you are found to be 30% at fault for the accident, you will receive 70% of the available compensation.
- Dram shop laws: Georgia also allows victims of DUI accidents to seek compensation from the bar, restaurant, and/or liquor store that sold the alcohol to the driver who caused the crash. These “dram shop laws” only go into effect if the shop knowingly and willfully served someone who was visibly intoxicated or under the age of 21.
- Severity of injuries: Your compensation will be affected by how much you suffered, both physically and mentally. The more severe your injury the more medical treatment you will require, which will raise the amount of compensation you will be entitled to.
Types of Damages You May Receive
Once you and your lawyer have established a preliminary idea of how much compensation you need and where you will be able to receive it from, the next step is looking at specific damages and assessing how much you need.
The types of damages you may be able to claim in a DUI accident case include:
- Medical care: Any doctor visits, hospital stays, medication, and ongoing therapy or treatment fall under medical care damages. You should be able to receive compensation that covers both past and future medical care related to your accident in full, even if you require medical care for the rest of your life.
- Lost wages: If you have to take time off from work to recover for your injuries, you may be entitled to receive a portion of your lost earrings back. If you are unable to return to work for good due to a permanent injury, income that you would have received will be calculated and factored in as well.
- Pain and suffering: This category can be hard to calculate because it is based on an accident victim’s feelings rather than something as tangible as a hospital bill. Compensation for pain and suffering may cover anguish caused by mental disorders such as depression or PTSD. You can also receive compensation to make up for the loss of something that was important to you before your accident, like if you can no longer participate in a club activity or hobby due to your injury, for instance.
- Wrongful death: This type of damage is awarded when a DUI accident results in someone’s death. The surviving family members, usually a spouse, children, or parents, can receive a substantial sum to help pay for burial and other expenses, especially if the deceased was the family’s primary breadwinner.
- Punitive damages: In rare cases, you may also be able to receive punitive damages as well. These act as an additional punishment for the defendant for committing a serious crime that caused harm.
The above showcases the damages typically available in a DUI car accident case. However, the circumstances that surround every wreck vary, so your claim might look different. The best way to ensure you have claimed all the damages available to you and have correctly calculated the amount you need is to hire a lawyer. A Woodstock DUI accident lawyer who is well versed in Georgia law and has experience in this type of claim will put you on the path to successfully receiving compensation and making a good recovery.