How Albuquerque Courts Determine Drunk Driving Liability
If a drunk driver has hit you, you might assume that recovering compensation from them will be straightforward. After all, they were in clear violation of the law, and their irresponsible behavior put you and others at risk. However, establishing liability can be complex, even in drunk driving cases, and a successful claim requires extensive evidence and aggressive advocacy by an experienced car accident lawyer.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help Establish Liability in a Drunk Driving Accident Case
An attorney can help you seek car accident injury compensation from an at-fault drunk driver by:
- Investigating the accident to determine its causes
- Identifying all liable parties
- Calculating the full value of your losses
- Negotiating with the insurance adjuster for a fair settlement
- Taking the at-fault party to court if necessary
Parnall Law has a proven track record handling Albuquerque drunk driving car accident claims. Our recent verdicts and settlements include several million-dollar results for innocent people injured by drunk drivers. We are committed to the betterment of our community, so we have a vested interest in holding drunken drivers accountable for their wrongdoing.
Difference in Criminal Drunk Driving Cases and Personal Injury Claims
When a drunk driver causes an accident, they may face legal justice in two ways:
- First, because driving under the influence of alcohol is a criminal offense, they may have to pay hefty fines, spend time in jail, and face other potential criminal consequences if convicted.
- Second, they may face civil action in addition to their criminal charges. A criminal conviction can increase the victim’s chances of a successful claim. While the consequences of a criminal conviction are meant to penalize the drunk driver for the harm they did to society, the consequences of civil liability are meant to offset the harm they did to the particular people they injured.
Establishing Liability Against Different Parties
Potential at-fault parties in a drunk driving accident include:
- The Drunk Driver – In most cases, a drunk driver will be deemed liable for accidents they cause. Alcohol’s adverse effects on a motorist’s attention, response times, and judgment are well-known, which is why driving while intoxicated is a crime. Violation of drunk driving laws can also constitute negligence per se, so all you need to establish is that the driver was indeed intoxicated in order to hold them at fault for injuring you.
- Dram Shop Laws – New Mexico requires liquor store workers, bartenders, and restaurant servers to refuse service to anyone who is visibly drunk. Failure to do so can make them liable for any accidents that the drunk customer subsequently causes.
- Social Host Liability – As with business establishments, individuals who host social gatherings have a responsibility to refrain from serving drunk guests, particularly if they know the guests will be driving. Social hosts who serve intoxicated motorists can also be legally liable for resulting drunk driving accidents. This also applies to supplying minors with alcohol.
Burden of Proof in Personal Injury Cases in Albuquerque
The burden of proof in personal injury cases in New Mexico falls on the plaintiff (the injured party). This means the plaintiff must prove that the defendant (the alleged at-fault party) is ultimately to blame for the injuries they suffered. Simply being involved in an accident is not enough to establish liability.
Furthermore, as the plaintiff, you must prove the full extent of losses you are claiming compensation for, such as:
- Medical costs
- Lost income from missed time at work
- Diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney can help assemble the strongest case possible to meet the burden of proof.
Importance of Evidence in Drunk Driving Cases
The following pieces of evidence can help you establish liability after a drunk driving accident in Albuquerque:
The police officer who responds to the accident will file an official report, including their initial determination of who was at fault. If they arrested the other driver for being drunk, this information will be in the report.
Testimony by Law Enforcement Officers
Statements from police officers can carry a lot of weight in an insurance claim or civil lawsuit. The officer’s assessment of the other driver’s intoxication levels, including the breathalyzer test results, can be highly valuable.
A record of the extent and nature of vehicle damage is often an essential piece of forensic evidence in drunk driving cases.
Event Data Recorded Information
Most modern vehicles come equipped with an EDR, which serves as the vehicle’s black box. This onboard computer carries data about the vehicle’s speed, braking activities, and other information experts can use to determine the likelihood that a driver was intoxicated.
Camera footage from dashcams or surveillance cameras can show any erratic movements the at-fault driver made in the lead-up to the accident.
Experienced attorneys can use accident scene photographs and videos as evidence of the vehicle’s direction of travel as well as the extent of the damage. This information can be crucial when building a case to demonstrate the drunk driver was at fault.
Eyewitness accounts in car accidents can give insurers and courts a way of understanding what happened from the perspective of a bystander with no vested interest in the outcome of the case.
Expert Witness Testimony
Expert testimony in car accidents can come from medical professionals or accident reconstructionists. Their statements can be critical in explaining why the evidence demonstrates that the drunk driver bears liability for the crash.
All experienced attorneys understand the importance of medical records for accident claims. In addition to your own medical records, such as doctor’s notes and diagnostic tests establishing your injuries, official records of the other driver’s BAC levels can strengthen your case significantly.
Maintaining records of your financial costs from the accident and your injuries is crucial for determining how much compensation you could receive for your medical expenses and property damage.
Contact an Albuquerque Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
If a drunk driver hit you in Albuquerque, you need the guidance and advocacy of a seasoned drunk driving accident lawyer. The experienced team at Parnall Law understands the challenges you are facing, and we are ready to fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation so we can help you hold the drunk driver accountable for their wrongdoing.