The criminal consequences of a DUI conviction is not the end of the legal process for defendants involved in serious DUI cases. Depending on the injury and/or damage to property victims of the DUI have faced, the defendant may face civil penalties. DUI cases that involve a defendant driving intoxicated and then shortly stopped by law enforcement are the simple cases. They do not involve harm to human life or destruction of property. However, all DUI cases are not made the same. Unfortunately, there is a percentage of DUI crimes that involve road accidents, as well as injury to others or damage to property. What are the additional penalties a defendant can face as a result of being sued in the civil court system?
Personal Injury Lawsuits
Victims of personal injury as a result of a DUI crime and conviction may have access to civil redress. A victim of a traffic accident caused by a driver who was found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol can seek damages for injuries and other harm caused by the accident. Most of these suits are based on a negligence theory, which states that the driver was reckless or had a low regard for others when he or she decided to drink and drive. Furthermore, some courts, as a matter of civil procedure, rely on the DUI conviction to prove the factual component of the civil case. In other words, the case does not require a factual showing that the driver was in fact negligent. The criminal conviction, in this kind of procedure, will stand in place to prove liability. This is especially the case when the defendant has taken a guilty plea in criminal court. As such, the civil court will only deliberate on the issue of damages. Given the origin of the loss (a DUI crime), and its severity, the defendant may also face punitive damages.
Property Damages Lawsuits
Similar to the personal injury suit, a property damage suit is usually brought to court based on a negligence theory. These kinds of suits often involve damage to vehicles and sometimes even homes. Plaintiffs in these cases will seek monetary damage to make them whole, including the actual damage for the cost of fixing or replacing the damaged property. However, like all suits for property damage, the actual damages for replacing or fixing is not the end of the transaction. Depending on the sentimental value of the property and the loss usage of the piece of property, a defendant may be looking at a heavier monetary judgement than anticipated.
Insurance Indemnification Clauses
For DUI defendants who have insurance coverage, it is possible that some of the damage or loss suffered by the victim is covered under a policy. However, DUI defendants must pay attention to the fine print in these vehicle insurance policies. Some insurance companies require indemnification for funds paid out as a result of criminal activity or recklessness, of which a DUI conviction would qualify. Therefore, even though the insurance company pays out the negotiated amount to the victim for property damage or bodily injury, indemnification permits the insurance company to sue the defendant for the monies paid out to the victim as a result of the defendant's crime.
Let Us Help with Your DUI Case
If you face a civil lawsuit after a DUI charge or conviction, please call us now. Attorney James Robert Ferguson is a seasoned DUI attorney with experience in civil suits stemming from DUI charges and convictions. He has defended both criminal and civil in his many years of experience. Contact us to determine your rights in the matter.
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