Not only is operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol a criminal offense in Pennsylvania, it puts all other motorists at risk of severe harm. Due to the driver’s impaired reaction time, he or she can cause catastrophic accidents that often result in fatalities.
If you were injured in a collision with an intoxicated driver, you should speak with a hardworking car accident attorney. An Altoona drunk driver accident lawyer could review your case and help you seek the legal restitution you deserve.
Impact of a Criminal Conviction on a Civil Case
One unique aspect of accidents involving a drunk driver is that the defendant will likely be facing criminal charges in addition to any civil litigation a plaintiff wishes to pursue. The DUI case would be handled by the District Attorney’s Office, who is the prosecutor in the criminal process, while an Altoona injury attorney would handle the civil litigation process.
While these cases do overlap since they involve the same accident, the functions of these cases are different. The criminal case is designed to punish the wrongdoer whereas the injury case is designed to compensate the victim for his or her financial losses. Additionally, while a conviction in a criminal case does not result in financial compensation to the injured party for pain and suffering, the claimant could use the outcome of the criminal case as evidence of negligence in his or her separate civil case.
Recoverable Damages in Intoxicated Driver Accidents
A person struck by a drunk driver in Altoona can seek economic and non-economic compensatory damages with help from an experienced attorney. Economic damages include quantifiable losses such as unpaid medical bills, lost wages, future lost earning capacity, and other out-of-pocket expenses. There are also non-economic damages, which include the intangible losses like pain and suffering, inconvenience, embarrassment, scarring, and disfigurement.
However, due to the egregiousness of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, an injured claimant could also be awarded punitive damages. These damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer for driving while intoxicated.
How Does Insurance Handle Collisions with a Drunk Driver?
In Pennsylvania, if a driver has limited tort insurance cover, he or she pays a lesser premium on his or her auto policy. However, the tradeoff is that he or she cannot make a claim for pain and suffering unless criteria for exceptions are met—one of which is drunk driving. If the defendant pleads guilty to a DUI or enters an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program, the plaintiff will not be bound by his or her limited tort insurance. In other words, a person who has selected the limited tort option on his or her auto insurance policy can still make a claim for pain and suffering.
Speak with an Altoona Drunk Driver Accident Attorney Today
Considering the catastrophic harm that can result in an intoxicated driver crash, it is imperative to speak with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible. An Altoona drunk driver accident lawyer could help you file a strong legal claim for damages and hold the negligent driver accountable for his or her wrongdoing. Do not wait. Call Marcus & Mack today to get started.