Drunk driving is a criminal offense, so any driver who causes an alcohol-related accident in Georgia, will face charges in criminal court. However, victims of Georgia drunk driving accidents may also pursue a separate civil claim against the driver.
Criminal and civil claims differ in several important ways. If a drunk driver is convicted of criminal charges, then he faces jail time, fines, and the loss of his license. Civil claims allow Georgia DUI injury victims to recover compensatory damages for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. They also allow DUI victims to receive punitive damages. Punitive damages are monetary awards that are paid directly to the victim and are designed to discourage wrongful or reckless behavior.
Another important difference between criminal and civil DUI cases is in the burden of proof. In criminal courts, guilt must be established “beyond a shadow of a doubt.” In civil courts, an Atlanta DUI injury attorney must show that the driver most likely caused the victim’s injuries. For this reason, a driver may still pay damages for a DUI even if he is not convicted in criminal court.
For more information, request a free copy of Shane Smith’s book, I Was Hit By A Drunk Driver: What Do I Do Next? If you have additional questions about Georgia drunk driving accidents or would like to discuss your claim with an Atlanta DUI injury attorney, contact the Law Offices of Shane Smith at 866-979-1629.