Drunk-driving car accidents are often extremely chaotic. These accidents tend to be more devastating and usually involve criminal prosecution.
After being injured by a drunk driver, you will understandably want to recover compensation but might now know how the driver’s conviction fits in. A drunk driver’s conviction in criminal court can usually tell you how strong your civil case will be. The burden of proof is high in criminal cases, so a conviction there bodes well for your civil claim. Other parties could also be liable for your injuries, like if a bar served the driver before they injured you.
If you were hurt in a car accident by a drunk driver, our Chicago personal injury attorneys can help determine how to use their conviction in your case. For a free case evaluation, contact Rhatigan Law Offices today at (312) 578-8502.
How Will a Drunk Driver’s Conviction Help Your Car Accident Case in Chicago?
Being injured in a drunk driving accident can be reeling for victims, who might not know what options they have to recover compensation. Most people understand that a drunk driver will usually be arrested for the crime, followed by a criminal prosecution by the state. If a drunk driver injured you, you might wonder how their conviction can help you in a civil lawsuit.
Criminal cases can be a great indicator of your chances of success in a civil case. This is because the burden of proof in a criminal case is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If a drunk driver is convicted, there is enough evidence to convince the jury beyond any reasonable doubt that the driver was guilty of DUI. In contrast, the burden of proof in a civil case is only a “preponderance of the evidence,” which is simply legal jargon for proving that it was more likely than not that the driver caused your injuries. This is a much lower standard, so it stands to reason that if the drunk driver were convicted under a criminal court’s burden of proof, they would likely be liable in a civil case.
However, a driver’s conviction is not the end of what must be done in your case. While a drunk driving conviction will usually serve as evidence of negligence in a car accident lawsuit, you will still need to submit other evidence to support your claim. You will need to prove the damages you have suffered and that your current injuries were caused by this drunk driving accident. Our Illinois personal injury attorneys can help you determine how a drunk driver’s conviction can be used in your civil case.
Can You File a Lawsuit Against a Drunk Driver If They Are Not Convicted in Chicago?
If a driver is not convicted of drunk driving, or worse, not even charged, you can still recover compensation in civil court. There is no requirement that drunk drivers be charged or convicted before they can be sued. This happens more commonly than people think. Chicago prosecutors are overwhelmed, leading to many drunk driving cases being pleaded down to lesser charges or outright dismissed. None of this bars you from filing a lawsuit.
Illinois is an at-fault state, meaning you can recover compensation directly from the party that injured you. If a drunk driver is at fault, they can be sued for their negligence, just like any other driver. This difference is that you are likely entitled to far more damages from a drunk driver than from a driver liable for ordinary negligence.
You Could also file an insurance claim against the drunk driver’s liability insurance. However, if your injuries are severe, the compensation you will need will likely exceed the coverage amounts provided by insurance. Thus, a lawsuit is usually the best way to protect your legal and financial interests. Our Naperville personal injury attorneys can help you prepare your lawsuit regardless of whether the drunk driver that injured you was convicted.
How to Prove a Car Accident Case Against a Drunk Driver in Chicago
Even if the driver that injured you is convicted of drunk driving, you will still need to submit various forms of evidence to prove your Chicago lawsuit. If there is a criminal trial, much of the evidence used by the prosecution to convict the driver will be the same evidence that proves liability in your civil case. However, you must still present evidence of your injuries and sufficient proof that your injuries were caused by this accident and not a preexisting condition.
To that end, our personal injury attorneys can help gather the evidence you need from the multiple sources that possess it. The following are common types of evidence used by our personal injury attorneys in a Chicago lawsuit:
- Police accident reports
- Blood-alcohol report
- Medical records
- Surveillance footage
- Witness statements
- Physical evidence from the scene
- Photographs from the scene
- Expert witness testimony
- Financial documents
Some of this evidence can be simple to gather since they technically belong to you, like your medical records. However, other evidence will be more challenging to procure without legal help. Our personal injury attorneys know how to get eh evidence you need to recover the compensation you deserve.
Other Parties Who Can Be Held Liable for Drunk Driving Car Accident in Chicago
While the drunk driver that injured you will be the party most likely responsible for your injuries, they might not be the only ones who should be held liable. Under Illinois’ “dram shop” law, also known as the Liquor Control Act, establishments that serve alcohol, like bars and restaurants, can be held liable for injuries in a drunk driving accident if they served alcohol to an intoxicated person.
In Illinois, it is typically easier to establish liability in these situations than in other states. This is because Illinois dram shop law does not require you to prove that the establishment knew the person was drunk when they served them or showed signs of intoxication, only that they served the driver, causing their intoxication and subsequent accident. Our personal injury attorneys can review your case to determine all the parties that should be named in your lawsuit.
Our Chicago Car Accident Attorneys Can Help
If a drunk driver injured you, get help from our experienced Joilet personal injury attorneys. Speak with our team at Rhatigan Law Offices by calling (312) 578-8502 for a free case review.