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What if My Accident Was Caused by a Drunk Driver?

person standing on overpass with an alcoholic beverage in hand

Victims of car accidents caused by another party’s negligence have the right to pursue compensation from the at-fault motorist and their insurance company. But if your collision involved an intoxicated driver, you may be left wondering how to move forward in the aftermath. If you’re asking: What if my accident was caused by a drunk driver? read on to learn what recovering compensation could entail in your case.

Buckingham & Vega Law Firm advocates for victims of motorist negligence in Albuquerque, including those injured or killed by drunk drivers. We are firm in our advocacy against dangerous driving behaviors in New Mexico. There is never an excuse for getting behind the wheel intoxicated. When risky choices devastate the lives of innocent people, our attorneys fight for justice on behalf of the injured.

Contact our office to speak with a qualified car accident lawyer about your legal options after an injury. We offer free consultations and case evaluations.

How Can I Recover Compensation After a Drunk Driving Accident?

As in most auto accident cases, your first avenue of compensation will be through the at-fault driver’s insurance company. New Mexico, like many states, is an at-fault state. That means the driver responsible for the accident should pay the bills for the victim’s losses.

But before agreeing to sign over the compensation you deserve, the at-fault motorist’s insurer will demand proof of their fault and your losses. Your claim will be under intense scrutiny from the insurance company. After all, auto insurance is a business. The more money they pay to you, the more they lose. Insurance adjusters are notorious for twisting evidence to avoid a payout. Even your own statement can be turned into proof of your fault if you don’t choose your words carefully.

The repercussions of an accident caused by a drunk driver are usually severe. When your health, well-being, and financial security are on the line, you need to make sure your claim is strong, giving you the best chance of recovering the full amount of funding you need to support your recovery.

When it comes to drunk driving accidents, it’s usually best to work with an experienced car accident lawyer to file your claim. If the company refuses to compensate you fairly, or insurance coverage isn’t sufficient to cover your losses, your attorney can help you file a lawsuit against the negligent motorist.

Can I File a Lawsuit Against a Drunk Driver Who Is Facing Criminal DUI Charges?

You can still seek financial recovery through an insurance or legal claim, regardless of any arrests stemming from the accident. Your right to compensation exists independently of any criminal charges the at-fault motorist is facing.

A lawsuit you file against a drunk driver is a civil case, and thus handled differently from criminal cases. Criminal charges punish wrongdoers for breaking laws. But civil cases aim to bring financial justice to victims who were hurt by the wrongful actions of another party.

A driver’s criminal arrest record may be helpful evidence in your civil case. But you can take legal action against a negligent motorist whether or not they were arrested for drunk driving.

Could There Be Third-Party Liability in My Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver?

Sometimes, the drunk driver is not the only one who acted negligently. What if a bartender knowingly served numerous drinks to an already inebriated patron, allowing them to then walk to the parking lot and drive away? Under New Mexico dram shop law, you may be able to hold a bar or restaurant that overserved a customer alcohol liable for an accident they caused.

Dram shop laws exist to prevent businesses from consciously selling alcohol to visibly intoxicated patrons. In New Mexico, you may be able to hold an establishment liable for an accident caused by a drunk customer, if the following conditions are met:

  • The establishment sold or served alcohol to the at-fault driver
  • It was reasonably apparent that the customer was intoxicated, or workers at the establishment could tell, given the circumstances, that the customer was intoxicated

When you work with your lawyer on your drunk driving accident case, they will be able to advise you whether you have a right to pursue compensation from a third party like a bar or restaurant.

What Evidence Do I Need To Prove a Drunk Driving Accident Claim?

In order to prove the other driver was intoxicated in the crash that led to your injuries, your lawyer will need to be resourceful in looking for evidence. A personal injury claim, like a car accident injury claim, rests on the concept of negligence. You must successfully show that the at-fault driver acted wrongly and violated a duty of care owed to you as a fellow motorist. Drunk driving is without doubt a form of negligence, but it must be proven before it can be used as the basis of your claim.

Some examples of evidence your lawyer might use to build a strong claim against a drunk driver are:

  • Drug, alcohol, or field sobriety test results
  • Traffic camera, surveillance camera, or dashcam footage
  • Police reports from the accident scene
  • Arrest records for a DUI or public drunkenness charge
  • Your testimony of the driver’s behavior at the scene, including slurred speech or the smell of alcohol on the breath
  • Cell phone camera pictures or video from the crash scene or crash aftermath
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Witness accounts of what the at-fault driver was doing prior to the crash
  • Expert witness statements, such as from traffic reconstructionists

If you and your lawyer are taking legal action against a liquor-licensed establishment through a third-party dram shop claim, you will also need sufficient evidence to support this claim.

Get Expert Legal Help if Your Albuquerque Accident Was Caused by a Drunk Driver

Without expert legal representation, it can be difficult to recover maximum compensation in your accident caused by a drunk driver. At Buckingham & Vega Law Firm, we have years of experience helping clients hold wrongdoers accountable. In winning back what has been taken from our clients, we also work hard to hold both motorists and purveyors of alcohol to a high standard of accountability.

If your Albuquerque car accident was caused by a drunk driver, contact us today. We’ll set you up with an actual attorney from our law firm who can answer your questions. A free, no-obligation consultation is available for you when you’re ready.

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