Can a DUI Charge Affect Compensation in a Personal Injury Claim?

by Lisa Coleman on July 1, 2013

Can a DUI Charge Affect Compensation in a Personal Injury Claim?

There are not many feelings that come close to the dread that we experience when we see flashing blue lights in our rear-view mirror, but when a person has been drinking, this feeling is likely exacerbated. Some unfortunate souls, however, end up in auto accidents after having drank a little too much. Many believe that, in any accident, an intoxicated person would be at fault, but this simply isn’t the case. It’s still important, however, for an injured person to realize how a DUI might affect their personal injury claim. Drunk Drivers and Fault by Association

There are many rules that people just seem to take at face value. One example is the belief that if someone rear ends another driver, the driver in the back was likely at fault. Many people have this same line of thinking when it comes to drunk driving. While it may seem logical that a person who is under the influence of alcohol would be at fault for an accident; in reality, a sober driver’s negligence can just as easily lead to an accident.

One case in point occurred in Chico, CA. when a pedestrian was struck by a drunk driver, but the drunk driver wasn’t held liable for their injuries. This is because police concluded that, even if the intoxicated driver had been sober, he wouldn’t have been able to avoid hitting the pedestrian who darted out into the street. Therein lies the caveat; if the negligence of a sober driver causes an accident with a drunk driver, the sober driver is still at fault.

Negligence Effects in a Personal Injury Claim

All of the aforementioned details aren’t meant to imply that a DUI won’t have a negative impact on a person who is filing a personal injury claim. It’s likely that a judge or jury will believe that a drunk driver was at least partially at fault for their accident. In states that practice “contributory negligence,” a person accused of drunk driving could be denied any compensation if the court believes they were even one percent at fault for their accident.

Luckily, most states are “comparative negligence” states, but this doesn’t mean that a DUI won’t still hurt. Comparative negligence states decide what percentage each party is at fault. If a sober driver caused an accident by running a red light, for instance, but the jury decides that the intoxicated driver could’ve stopped in time had they been sober, they’ll likely subtract from the compensation that the victim, who received the DUI, would receive.

This is why it’s so important to fight DUI charges when a personal injury claim is involved. The best way to do this is to hire a knowledgeable and equipped lawyer from the area of where the charge was given. For example, if you were charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania then hiring an attorney from the state of PA who is experienced with DUI clients and knowledgeable about state laws would be ideal.

Reducing the Effect of a DUIThe only way for a person to eliminate a DUI’s effect on the amount of personal injury compensation they receive is to avoid being convicted. This may seem next to impossible, and this is especially true if there was a breathalyzer test administered and failed. Luckily for those in this situation, a failed breathalyzer isn’t an automatic conviction.

There are several issues with breathalyzer devices that can cause them to be inaccurate. Additionally, shoddy police work can lead to inaccurate breathalyzer results and field sobriety test conclusions. This is why it’s imperative for someone in this situation to find a DUI attorney.

These legal professionals will know all of the related laws and be able to find any mistake made on the part of police or prosecutors. Since trial results are usually more positive for those who have attorneys defending them, having legal help to fight a DUI conviction is essential for those who hope to recover adequate compensation for their injuries.

While driving drunk is definitely a reckless behavior, engaging in the behavior doesn’t automatically put someone at fault for an accident that they’ve been involved in. There’s no doubt, however, that a DUI will have a negative effect on the outcome of an injured party’s case. This makes it imperative to find a DUI attorney to help defeat the drunk driving charge before it becomes a detrimental factor to the personal injury case at hand.

Lisa Coleman, freelance legal writer, writes to encourage someone with a DUI charge to consider hiring an attorney to help with the charges. The Law Offices of Steven E. Kellis are knowledgeable about all aspects of DUI in Pennsylvania and are equipped to represent and handle all legal proceedings for their clients.

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