An individual driving while intoxicated may face criminal charges for drunk driving and a civil lawsuit for any damage that they may have caused while driving drunk. A civil lawsuit is filed by anyone harmed by the individual driving while intoxicated. If the defendant is convicted of drunk driving, it is easier for the plaintiff to win their lawsuit. A plaintiff usually brings a negligence action against the defendant in this sort of situation.
Negligence is a legal term that describes when a person fails to act as a reasonable person would in the same circumstances.
A plaintiff must prove specific elements of a negligence claim in order to win. These elements are:
Causation is separated into two categories: actual cause and proximate cause. When determining actual cause, the court uses the “but for” test. In a drunk driving context, the argument would be that but for the defendant drinking and driving, the plaintiff’s injuries would not have occurred.
Proximate cause, or legal cause, is the defendant’s actions being legally responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. For example, the defendant was drunk while driving and hit a pedestrian. The plaintiff swerved to miss the injured pedestrian and struck a tree. The defendant was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s accident because the defendant was legally responsible for creating the situation that caused the plaintiff's accident.
Yes, a defendant does have defenses available to them, including:
If you have any questions about your rights, ability to sue, or defenses, you should contact a personal injury lawyer immediately. They can answer your questions, and help you with any legal actions that you may face or wish to pursue.
Last Modified: 07-28-2015 05:00 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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