What to Do After an Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver

Madeleine Jones
February 25, 2019

When a driver causes an accident with another, the at-fault driver could potentially face criminal charges as well as civil liability for the victim’s damages. This is especially true in drunk driving cases, as driving under the influence is against the law. However, how does an injured driver prove that the driver who caused his or her accident was under the influence at the time?

If you or a family member was seriously injured in a car accident, call our car accident attorneys at Cogburn Law Offices today for a free case consultation.

Physical Evidence in DUI Accidents

Evidence plays a crucial role in any criminal or civil case. However, the police and first responders at the scene of an accident will likely move to clear the site of debris as soon as possible to restore the flow of traffic. This could destroy valuable evidence, so an injured driver should attempt to take many photos of the scene of the crash, if possible. If his or her injuries are too severe to move, then he or she should stay put until an ambulance arrives.

The police officers who respond to a traffic accident will interview the drivers involved and collect statements from witnesses who saw the crash take place. During their investigation, they may conduct a breathalyzer test or other chemical test if they suspect any of the drivers involved are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If the police discover an intoxicated driver, they will likely conduct an arrest.

Proving Negligence

In a civil claim over a DUI-related injury, proving negligence is fairly simple. Driving under the influence is against the law and inarguably dangerous and doing so would constitute a breach of the at-fault driver’s duty to drive with reasonable care. If the physical evidence such as a breathalyzer test result proves the defendant in such a case was intoxicated, it is likely that the jury hearing the case will consider the defendant’s intoxication as a breach of duty and grounds for liability for the plaintiff’s damages.

A plaintiff’s attorney must establish four elements of negligence a to succeed with a personal injury claim.

  • Duty. The attorney for the plaintiff needs to show the court that the defendant should have acted responsibly towards the plaintiff in the situation in question. As an example, drivers have a duty to drive responsibly and refrain from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, to protect other drivers.
  • Breach. The next step for the plaintiff’s attorney is to show the court how the defendant broke his or her responsibility to others on the road. Drunk driving is a clear breach of duty of care for any driver.
  • Damage. The plaintiff’s attorney must also prove the extent of the plaintiff’s damages. The plaintiff reserves the right to file a lawsuit only if he or she was victim to tangible, measurable damages or actual harm.
  • Causation. The plaintiff’s attorney also must prove the link between the defendant’s negligence and the plaintiff’s damages. This means proving the damages may not have occurred without negligence on the defendant’s part or proving that those damages only occurred due to negligence.

If another driver hits your car and you are waiting for police to arrive, pay close attention to the at-fault driver’s behavior. If he or she appears intoxicated, or you can smell alcohol coming from his or her or the vehicle, tell the responding officers that you believe the other driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Additionally, if you see the at-fault driver attempt to use eye drops, gum, or anything else meant to hide the appearance of intoxication, tell the responding officers what you saw. Other evidence of intoxication could include the at-fault driver attempting to quickly dispose of beer cans or alcohol bottles, tossing drug paraphernalia out of the car, or switching seats with a passenger before police arrive.

A Las Vegas personal injury attorney can be a great resource after any kind of DUI-related car accident. Your attorney will help you determine your best options for legal recourse based on the available evidence and witness statements and work toward maximizing your recovery.