Winston-Salem Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
One of the more irresponsible and egregious acts that a person can take is driving while intoxicated. Not only are drunk drivers placing themselves in danger, they place their passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians in mortal danger as well.
Car accidents that are the result of a drunk driver are unhappily common, and the perpetrators will certainly be prosecuted for their actions. However, people injured in these collisions also have the right to pursue the defendant for monetary damages related to the incident.
Regardless of the outcome of any criminal charges, a civil case is the only way for injured people to be reimbursed for medical costs and mental anguish. Winston-Salem drunk driving accident lawyers can represent clients’ interests in these civil cases in order to hold drunk drivers civilly responsible for their actions. Speak with a capable car accident lawyer today, and get the fair compensation that you deserve.
Drunk Driving Accident Laws in North Carolina
Everyone knows that it is illegal to drive while under the influence of any impairing substance. When the police respond to the scene of an accident, one of their key functions is to examine all the people involved for mental stability and physical state.
This includes checking for signs of intoxication. If one of the drivers is believed to be drunk, they will be arrested and most likely prosecuted.
Even if it is this persons’ fifth arrest and conviction for DWI, the criminal court is only capable of punishing the defendant. For the people injured in the incident to recover any money, they must file their own civil lawsuit for damages.
Criminal Versus Civil Court
One interesting interplay in the criminal and civil courts is that the same issue cannot be litigated twice. For example, let us assume that our drunk driver in the above paragraph is convicted of drunk driving in the criminal court.
The injured person then brings a civil lawsuit arising from the same incident. The defendant cannot then reargue that they were not drunk at the time of the accident: a court has already made that determination. However, if the defendant is found not guilty in criminal court, this does not bar a civil suit. This is because there are different standards of proof in criminal and civil court.
For a criminal conviction, the defendant needs to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. For civil cases, they only need to be found to be more than likely responsible.Therefore, a criminal acquittal based on the idea that the jury was only 80 percent sure that the defendant was guilty means that a civil jury may find that same defendant liable based on the same 80 percent certainty.
Statute of Limitations for Drunk Driving Accident Cases
Potential plaintiffs should not always wait for the end result of a criminal trial, before filing a civil claim. There is a time limit placed on plaintiffs by North Carolina’s legislature for all civil cases alleging personal injury.
N.C. Gen. Stat.1-52 gives plaintiffs three years from the date of the accident to file a suit in court. While most criminal cases will be finished in this time, delays are not unheard of.
A Winston-Salem drunk driving attorney can work with people to determine both the best strategy and ideal timing for the best chances of a positive outcome.
Talk to a Winston-Salem Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Today
Some of the most serious and longest lasting injuries occur as the result of a drunk driver. With the associated potential criminal penalties that can result, the State also considers these actions especially egregious.
But even if a defendant is convicted in criminal court of drunk driving that led to the accident, the court is powerless to order the defendant to pay any compensation to the injured people. Plaintiffs must take their own initiative to file a civil suit and Winston-Salem drunk driving accident lawyers are here to help.
By analyzing the facts of the case, and determining the status of any criminal proceedings, an attorney can formulate a solid defense strategy. Defendants may be responsible for not just medical bills, but also lost time at work, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life.
Take a positive step towards getting the financial compensation that you deserve due to another’s negligent choice to drive while drunk, and contact a lawyer today.