If you have been injured in a car crash caused by a drunken motorist, the ensuing car accident claim may be slightly different from that stemming from a regular car accident where no one is intoxicated. Here are some important points to note when pursuing a third party DUI (driving under the influence) accident claim:
You Can Sue the Alcohol Vendor
Dram shop laws allow you to sue an alcohol vendor for damages if they serve alcohol to an intoxicated motorist, and the motorist ends up crashing into your car. Not all states have dram shop laws, and they also vary among the states that do have them. In general, you must prove that the vendor sold alcohol to the motorist, the motorist was already intoxicated when they were served, and the motorist's intoxication was the proximate cause of the accident in which you were injured. Social host liability laws apply if the motorist was served with alcohol in a social setting, and not by a vendor.
You Can Sue the Owner of the Car
If the intoxicated motorist was driving someone else's vehicle, then you can use negligent entrustment laws to pursue damages against the owner of the car. The legal principle of negligent entrustment makes a car owner liable for damages their car causes when they loan out their car to a negligent driver. Anyone who decides to drink and drive is obviously negligent. Therefore, if you can prove that the car owner knew or should have known that the borrower would drive while intoxicated, then you may be able to hold them liable for your injuries.
You Can Use the DUI Conviction as Evidence
Lastly, you should also know that if the defendant ends up getting convicted for their DUI, you can use the conviction as evidence during your pursuit of injury damages. The argument here is that if the criminal court, which requires a higher standard of proof (beyond any reasonable doubt) has already found the defendant guilty, then it means they were really intoxicated.
However, don't think that the criminal conviction provides you with a way of getting an automatic result in the civil court. You still have to prove that the DUI had a part to play in the accident, for example, by proving that the DUI impaired the driver's vision and caused them to crash into your car.
Consult resources like Gary L Baker Attorney at Law if you want to know exactly how the DUI issue will affect your accident claim. The lawyer will also advise you on how to play the DUI card right to strengthen your claim.