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What Do Judges Consider When Awarding Compensation to Victims of DUI Crashes?

Injuries sustained in a car accident, especially a drunk driving accident, can be catastrophic and are often fatal. While a lawsuit won’t turn back the hands of time and “undo” the accident, compensation awarded to you in a personal injury or wrongful death suit can help with medical bills and other expenses.

It’s not unusual to have questions regarding personal injury lawsuits. The two most common questions are often: how will I pay the attorney who pursues the case and what is the case worth?

These are two good questions. First off, when you select a personal injury law firm that works on contingency, there are no out-of-pocket legal costs. At Rudnick Law, you only pay when we collect damages for you. No compensation, no legal bills.

It’s extremely difficult to answer the lawsuit value question because there are so many factors that can impact the award you may receive. Therefore, this question can best be answered by offering the common factors considered by judges when awarding compensation to DUI crash victims and their families.

1. Was the drunk driver completely at fault or partially at fault?
The issue at hand here is known as “comparative negligence.” If the driver was convicted of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), it will generally be accepted in civil court that the driver must bear responsibility, at least in part, for the accident that caused your injuries. However, the degree to which the drunk driver was at fault may be debated. If a judge or jury feels that the accident victims should bear some responsibility for the accident, that will usually impact the award. Moreover, if it is determined that the accident victim was more than 50 percent responsible for the accident, then recovery may be barred entirely. For this reason, you need a lawyer fighting for your rights when you’ve been hurt in an accident.

2. Do the injuries require long-term or even lifelong care?
Depending on the nature of the accident and the type of injuries sustained, you or your loved one may be looking at months, years or even a lifetime of medical care and treatment. The judge will weigh this information heavily when deciding how much financial compensation the case is worth.

3. Who served the alcohol to the drunk driver?
The New Jersey Licensed Alcoholic Beverage Server Fair Liability Act is also known as our Dram Shop Law. This law allows the victim of a DWI accident to hold the bar, restaurant or other establishment responsible for injuries sustained in the crash when the establishment served alcohol to the person who then drove drunk and caused the accident.

4. Did someone lose their life in the DUI accident?
If the drunk driver killed someone in the accident, the family can pursue a wrongful death claim. Judges will take this into consideration and usually award increased compensation to the plaintiff in the case. This is especially true if the deceased was the family’s main source of income.

5. Are you able to work following the accident?
If the injuries sustained in the accident prevent you from earning a living, you may be entitled to increased compensation. The judge will take into consideration issues such as “future earning potential” when making these decisions.

 

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a drunk or drugged driver, contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza PC. We will fight for maximum compensation for you. Call us today for a free consultation about your accident and injuries.

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