Pursuing a civil claim against a drunken driver
A drunk-driving accident last month has reportedly resulted in charges against the 25-year-old woman responsible for the accident. The crash occurred when the woman went into an intersection, pulling her vehicle in front of a school bus carrying a high school track team. In total, there were 33 individuals on the bus. As a result of the crash, two students and two coaches were injured and the bus driver was killed.
The young woman responsible for the accident is now facing DUI Manslaughter charges. Sources didn’t indicate whether any of the accident victims or the family of the deceased bus driver would be seeking damages in civil litigation, but it would not be out of the question.
While criminal charges are an important aspect of achieving justice in cases involve fatal and injurious drunken-driving crashes, civil damages have the purpose of directly compensating victims for their pain and suffering, injuries and losses. In some drunk-driving cases, victims may also be able to obtain punitive damages, which have the objective of punishing the offender and deterring other potential offenders.
One major difference between criminal and civil cases, of course, is the burden of proof. In criminal cases, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crimes he or she is charged with. In civil cases, the burden of proof is preponderance of the evidence. In other words, a plaintiff only has to prove that the defendant is more likely than not liable for the claims against him or her.
It is important to work with an experienced attorney when pursuing a civil claim against a drunken driver. Even though the burden of proof is lower, building a strong case is important, both in terms of liability and damages.
Source: Wctv.tv, “Charges In Florida High Bus Accident Upgraded To DUI Manslaughter,” James Buechele, April 26, 2014.