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Despite strong criminal penalties and other protective measures, drunk driving remains a persistently frequent cause of serious car accidents. Accidents caused by drunk drivers can be some of the most difficult to deal with, personally and legally. Help hold impaired drivers responsible for their actions by contacting an experienced East Hartford drunk driving car accident lawyer. A skilled attorney could guide you through this complex legal process so you can focus on your recovery. En Español.

Criminal vs. Civil Penalties

Drunk driving is a crime. A person convicted of driving while intoxicated faces criminal punishments, including the loss of their driver’s license, monetary fines, and possible jail time. While these penalties punish the driver for their wrongdoing, they do not provide relief or compensation to the other driver involved.

Is Drunk Driving Grounds for a Civil Claim?

An injured driver will need to file a civil personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for their injuries. The civil case is a separate proceeding from any criminal punishments, and a person does not have to be found guilty in criminal court to be liable in civil court.

If the intoxicated driver is convicted or pleads guilty in the criminal case, however, the plaintiff can use that guilt as proof of negligence in a civil lawsuit. An East Hartford attorney could explain to a car accident plaintiff how a drunk driving criminal case may impact their civil claim.

Filing a Lawsuit Against Impaired Drivers

Lawsuits against drunk drivers are based on the legal theory of negligence. To win a personal injury case, a plaintiff must show that the impaired driver had a duty to drive safely, that the driver breached that duty by their actions or inactions, and that that breach caused the plaintiff’s injury.

When evaluating fault in a personal injury case, Connecticut adheres to the concept of modified comparative negligence, pursuant to Connecticut General Statute §52-572h. Under comparative negligence, an injured person is allowed to recover compensation in a personal injury case so long as they are not more than 50% responsible for the accident that caused their injuries.

Recovering Compensation After a Drunk Driving Accident

A personal injury lawsuit allows an injured person to seek damages for their actual losses and their mental and emotional losses. Damages compensate a person for their costs and expenses related to their injury. In contrast, non-economic damages compensate a person for their mental anguish, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.

Individuals involved in a drunk driving accident may also have the option to seek punitive damages. Unlike compensatory damages, which are meant to make an injured person financially whole, punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for their actions.

Are Punitive Damages Allowed?

When a car accident is simply an accident, most courts will not allow punitive damages. If a person’s actions are extraordinarily dangerous or reckless, however, punitive damages may be allowed. The law in Connecticut not only allows juries to award punitive damages to those who have been injured by drunk drivers but also allows them to double or triple the amount if they believe the circumstances warrant such action. A lawyer could assess whether a claimant in an East Hartford car accident case could pursue punitive damages from an impaired driver.

Contact an East Hartford Drunk Driving Car Accident Attorney

Driving while impaired is a reckless and irresponsible decision.  If you were injured by an impaired driver, an experienced lawyer could hold that person accountable for their actions. Schedule an appointment with an East Hartford drunk driving car accident lawyer today to get started.