Mintz Law Firm
Drunk Driving Accident Attorney in Lakewood
The aftermath of an accident is never easy, but it can be uniquely challenging when the accident involves a drunk driver. In the event of a drunk driving accident, there’s also the possibility of dealing with a criminal case. However, a criminal case, although it holds the drunk driver accountable, may not provide you with the financial compensation you need to cope with medical bills, loss of income, and other costs incurred as a result of the accident.
At Mintz Law Firm, our Lakewood drunk driving accident attorneys have helped our clients recover the monetary compensation they are owed from the drunk drivers that harmed them. While it may seem like an easy task to prove a drunk driver negligent and liable, insurance companies always look for a way to protect their own profits. It’s important to have a skilled Lakewood drunk driving accident attorney who can protect your right to fair compensation, regardless of the tactics insurance companies employ. Contact Mintz Law Firm today to start fighting for your right to fair compensation.
Understanding the Implications of the Drunk Driver’s Criminal Trial in Colorado
Driving under the influence is a criminal offense, so when a drunk driver causes a serious or fatal accident, the consequences of a conviction can be severe. However, a criminal conviction doesn’t always result in compensation being paid to the victim. Recovering compensation after an accident involving a drunk driver means filing a personal injury claim against the driver in civil court as well.
Colorado’s law of “collateral estoppel” states that parties do not need to re-litigate any matters that have already been decided in court if the drunk driver is convicted in criminal court. This means that you can use this conviction to prove they were, in fact, drunk behind the wheel at the time of the accident. You will still need to go through the process of proving your personal injury claim, but the drunk driver's conviction could be incredibly helpful.
If a drunk driver’s conduct is deemed to be willful and wanton, a criminal conviction may also help build a case for punitive damages. These types of damages are awarded to victims as a way to punish the liable party and make an example of them.
Understanding Drunk Driving Negligence
If a drunk driver is responsible for injuries resulting from a car accident that their intoxication caused, the injured victim from the other vehicle can file a personal injury claim or lawsuit to recover fair compensation. A personal injury claim against a drunk driver, like most, is often built on the theory of negligence. However, in a drunk driving case, there are two types of negligence that may arise.
Most personal injury cases are built on the basis of a "negligence" standard. Negligence occurs when:
- The defendant (the drunk driver) owed a duty of care to the plaintiff (the victim who brought the lawsuit)
- The defendant breached the duty of care
- The defendant's breach directly or proximately caused harm to the plaintiff
- The plaintiff suffered monetary damages as a result of the plaintiff's injuries
This is a legal standard that requires proof through enough evidence. With the help of an attorney, you will provide evidence that proves the other driver was intoxicated and that their intoxication was a breach of the duty of care that caused your injuries.
Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se is a different type of negligence standard that comes into play in many drunk driving cases. This type of negligence occurs when an individual violates a regulation, safety law, or ordinance in the state. As a result of this violation, that person is presumed to have been negligent. To prove negligence per se, the plaintiff must prove that:
- The defendant violated a regulation, safety law, or ordinance
- The law at issue was designed to prevent the type of injury the plaintiff suffered
- The plaintiff is a part of the "class" of individuals the law intended to protect
- The defendant's violation of the safety law directly or proximately caused the plaintiff's injuries
Generally, a person who was driving under the influence of alcohol is considered negligent per se. This standard of the law helps to establish the negligence aspect of your case, allowing you to more quickly and effectively prove your damages. With the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer, you can establish the facts and win the compensation you deserve.
Who Else Could Be Liable For a Drunk Driving Accident?
While pursuing compensation after a drunk driving accident usually entails filing a claim against the insurance policy of the drunk driver, it’s possible that a victim may also file a claim under Colorado’s “dram shop” law. This law holds restaurants, bars, liquor stores, and other businesses legally accountable for serving or selling alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person.
If the drunk driver responsible for the accident was served in violation of Colorado’s dram shop law, a victim can pursue a claim against the business responsible. Furthermore, businesses tend to carry far more liability insurance than individual drivers, meaning a dram shop claim could significantly increase the amount of compensation that’s recoverable.
A Party Host May Also Be Liable If the Drunk Driver was Under 21
Colorado’s dram shop law may also apply to “social hosts,” but only when the drunk driver is under the age of 21. If the person that caused the accident was under 21 and had been drinking to excess at a house party before the accident, then the victim may be able to pursue a claim against the party’s host.
What Evidence Is Needed to Prove a Driver Was Drunk?
As the victim facing bodily harm in a drunk driving case, it is necessary to prove the other driver’s intoxication. You must also prove the intoxication is more likely than not the cause of the accident, also called showing the preponderance of the evidence. You or your drunk driving accident lawyer need to show enough evidence to prove the case before you can recover financial compensation. The following are pieces of evidence that may be used against a drunk driver or dram shop:
- Police accident report
- Field sobriety test
- Signed eyewitness statements
- Blood, urine, or Breathalyzer test results
- Police cam footage
- Photographs that were taken at the crash site
- A DUI conviction
- Recordings of post-accident behavior
The concept of recovering fair compensation from a drunk driver may appear easy enough. However, regardless of their insurer’s liability, insurance companies are out to protect their own profits. They may even offer a seemingly fair settlement offer soon after the accident. It’s rarely a good idea to take that initial offer, as they tend to be significantly less than the true value of a claim. This is one of the many reasons it’s beneficial to work with a seasoned drunk driving accident lawyer who can ensure your rights and best interests are protected.
Retain a Skilled Lakewood Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer at Mintz Law Firm
The injuries suffered as a result of a drunk driving accident can alter someone’s quality of life permanently. The consequences of that can add up to incredible costs and burdens that the victim should not have to bear. Instead, the burden of paying for the financial strains you’re experiencing should be placed on the responsible party.
At Mintz Law Firm, we are committed to fighting for our client's best interests, even if it means going to trial. We firmly believe you should not be burdened with the financial losses caused by someone else’s negligent actions. We work hard so you have the space, time, and resources to focus on getting your life back on track. Schedule a consultation today by calling (303) 732-8919 or completing our contact form.