If you’re hit by a drunk driver, they might face criminal charges. Whether or not the state files charges against the other driver, you might wonder if you can sue the driver. Should you sue a drunk driver if the state doesn’t press charges? Can you sue a drunk driver even if the state files criminal charges against them? Here’s what you need to know from our Pennsylvania personal injury attorney Gregg Durlofsky.
Can you sue a drunk driver?
Yes, you can sue a drunk driver for hitting you. Drunk driving is an example of negligence. When you’re the victim of negligence, you have a right to claim compensation through the civil court system. Bringing a civil claim for compensation doesn’t depend on whether there are criminal charges. In addition, bringing a civil claim doesn’t depend on the outcome of the criminal charges.
Drunk driving civil vs. criminal cases
Whether or not the state brings criminal charges, you have the right to bring a civil claim against the drunk driver. If the state files criminal charges against the drunk driver that hit you, you might think that you don’t need to bring a civil case. However, there are some key differences that may make it critical for you to bring a civil claim in order to receive justice:
Different burden of proof
The burden of proof is lower in a civil case than a criminal case. In a civil case, you have to prove only that your version of events is more likely than not to be true. In a criminal case, the state has a higher standard to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if the criminal case is unsuccessful, the jury may reach a different result in your civil case.
You control the presentation of evidence
In your civil case, you’re the plaintiff. You make decisions about what evidence the jury needs to see. In a criminal case, the state brings the case on behalf of the people. You don’t get to decide how to preset the case or whether to extend a settlement offer. However, in your civil case, you’re in the driver’s seat.
The compensation that you can claim is different
In a criminal case, you have some rights to recover for your financial losses as a result of the accident. However, your rights are greatly expanded in a civil case. In a civil case, you can claim compensation for things like pain and suffering that may not be available in a criminal case. Ultimately, a civil car accident claim fully pursues your rights and interests when you’re the victim of a drunk driving accident.
How our Pennsylvania personal injury law firm can help you
Have you been in an accident with a drunk driver? Our Pennsylvania personal injury attorney Gregg Durlofsky can help. You have important rights when you’re the victim of a drunk driving accident. Bringing a civil case ensures that you win all of the compensation that you may deserve in your case. Contact our Pennsylvania personal injury law firm for a confidential consultation about your case.