Motor vehicle accidents are never a cause for celebration, but accidents, injuries, and deaths caused by drunk drivers are particularly hard to stomach, considering that they're 100% preventable. Motorists have known for decades that drinking and driving endangers themselves and everyone else on the road and yet, each year, millions of drivers get behind the wheel after having a few too many.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tens of thousands of people were injured—and thousands were killed—in drunk driving accidents in recent years, some of them right here in North Carolina. Sadly, despite law enforcement officers arresting more than a million motorists annually for driving under the influence of alcohol, drunk driving remains a significant problem on America's roads.
If you were hurt by a drunk driver, you may be eligible for compensation for damages such as medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and more. Here's what you need to know before moving forward with a civil DUI accident case.
Patience Is Key After a DUI Crash in North Carolina
Motor vehicle accidents can be exhausting—both physically and emotionally. After being hurt in a serious crash, many accident victims just want to put the entire stressful ordeal behind them. However, settling too soon in a DUI crash case can be a significant mistake. Here's why.
Driving under the influence is a crime, which makes it a matter for the criminal justice system in addition to being something that can be litigated in civil court. Once the criminal case has concluded, you and your attorney will be able to access a veritable wealth of information, including the defendant's arrest records, evidence presented at trial, and rulings and verdicts. This can help you build a strong case and increase the value of your claim.
Don't Settle for Less Than You Deserve
Accepting the first settlement the insurance adjuster offers may seem like a quick and easy way to move on after being injured in a drunk driving accident, but it can put you at a significant disadvantage when it comes to the amount of compensation you'll receive.
Insurance adjusters know to present low settlement offers first, in the hopes that the victim will be desperate enough to accept the money without fighting for more. Without a knowledgeable DUI victim attorney by your side, there are numerous opportunities for an insurance company to take advantage of you after an accident.
Pursuing compensation through a personal injury lawsuit may take longer than accepting a quick—and small—settlement, but the results can be worth it, with North Carolina DUI accident victims receiving more of the compensation they deserve.
Understanding Punitive Damages
Most of the damages awarded in personal injury cases fall into the economic or non-economic categories. However, when a judge or jury wants to punish particularly egregious behavior by a defendant and discourage others from engaging in similar conduct, punitive damages may also come into play. Unlike other types of damages, which seek to compensate the victim for a loss, punitive damages are paid to the victim as part of the defendant's legal punishment.
Additionally, judges may order defendants to pay civil damages to DUI victims during the course of their criminal trial. These damages are in addition to those which might be obtained by the victim in a subsequent civil case.
Consult a Skilled DUI Accident Attorney About Your Case
Were you injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver's negligence? Our firm's seasoned auto accident attorneys have experience handling DUI accident cases. We can answer your questions, address your concerns, and help you understand your legal rights and options for seeking compensation. Contact the Law Offices of Shane Smith today to schedule an appointment for your free, no-obligation initial consultation. Don't wait another minute to start fighting for the justice you deserve!