You're already facing DUI charges after your car crash, and now you discover that you are being sued by someone who was injured in the accident. While these are two very different types of legal actions, they are not unrelated. If you can defend yourself against the DUI and get the charges dismissed, you could also make it harder for the injured person to prove you were at fault for the crash. On the other hand, if you don't fight the DUI, you will almost certainly be on the hook for the personal injury claim.
At Flaherty & Merrifield, we don't handle personal injury cases, but we do fight to protect the rights of people charged with driving under the influence. If your DUI charge is unfounded, or the police violated your rights in charging you, you shouldn't have to bear the consequences. Call us as soon as possible after the crash to discuss your options.
Liability in Car Accident Injury Lawsuits
A personal injury lawsuit is a civil action initiated by an individual who has suffered harm or injury due to the negligent or wrongful actions of another party. In the context of a car crash, personal injury lawsuits often arise when one driver's negligence or recklessness leads to an accident resulting in injuries to another party. If one of the drivers involved is ticketed for DUI at the scene, there will be an assumption that they are at fault for the crash.
The injured person, known as the plaintiff, seeks compensation for their losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages incurred as a result of the accident. To prevail in a personal injury lawsuit related to a car crash, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the other driver, the defendant, was at fault and, therefore, liable for the injuries sustained. In most car accident claims, the defendant's liability insurance policy will compensate the plaintiff, but if their damages are high and the defendant has money or valuable property, the plaintiff could also come after personal assets. Either way, it is costly to the liable driver.
Defendants in personal injury claims don't generally hire defense lawyers. Instead, the insurance company for the driver being sued for personal injury damages will fight back in order to avoid a big payout. However, if their client is convicted of a DUI, there's not much they can do other than potentially raise that client's insurance premiums going forward.
What Role Does a Florida DUI Defense Lawyer Play in a Personal Injury Claim?
A key element of a personal injury claim is proving that the defendant acted in a reckless or negligent manner and that the plaintiff was injured as a result. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a clear form of negligence, so a DUI conviction would hand the plaintiff victory on a silver platter. However, if the DUI charges are dismissed, the personal injury lawyer will have to work much harder to prove negligence.
As DUI defense lawyers, we leave no stone unturned in protecting our clients' rights. Possible defense strategies we will pursue include the following:
- Review the arrest procedure. We will carefully examine the details of the arrest to ensure that law enforcement officers followed proper protocol during the stop, testing, and arrest.
- Analyze field sobriety tests. We will assess the validity and accuracy of field sobriety tests, looking for any issues with how they were administered or other factors that could have affected the results.
- Examine breathalyzer or blood test results. Our team will scrutinize the results of blood alcohol content (BAC) tests, checking for possible errors in calibration, administration, or chain of custody.
- Question probable cause. We will question whether there was sufficient probable cause for the arrest and whether the officer had a reasonable belief that the driver was impaired.
- Check Miranda rights. We will assess whether the defendant's Miranda rights were read and respected during the arrest and questioning.
- Examine video evidence. If available, video footage from the accident and arrest can be a crucial piece of evidence. We will analyze this for inconsistencies or violations of the defendant's rights.
The potential consequences of a DUI conviction—including a potential liability lawsuit—are just too serious to ignore. You owe it to yourself, your family, and your future to defend yourself with an experienced DUI legal team.