When you are involved in an accident where the at-fault party was a drunk driver or operating their vehicle under the influence, it may make sense to assume that if the at-fault party is charged with criminal liabilities from the accident, that you should be compensated as well. This, however, is not the case, and it is crucial that potential plaintiffs know the difference between civil and criminal liability.
According to a local news report, three Indiana residents were recently killed in a wrong-way crash. A man was stopped in a Hyundai SUV on the shoulder of the road facing the wrong direction when an Indiana state trooper stopped at his vehicle to assist. When the trooper parked in front of the SUV and got out of his squad car to approach the Hyundai, the Hyundai began to drive forward. The trooper pounded on the driver of the Hyundai’s windshield, yelling for him to stop, but the driver swung around the police vehicle and drove about a half-mile in the wrong direction before crashing into another vehicle head-on. That vehicle was carrying two occupants. All three victims in both vehicles were pronounced dead at the scene. The crash is still under investigation, but local authorities suspect alcohol or drugs could have been a factor in the accident.
In Indiana, “operating while intoxicated” (OWI) is used instead of “driving under the influence.” When operating a vehicle under the influence, the state considers an OWI offense to be criminal. In Indiana, like other states, criminal investigations into whether alcohol or drugs were involved in a case have no bearing on a personal injury or civil lawsuit pertaining to damages. Thus, even if the at-fault party in an accident is facing criminal charges, potential plaintiffs must advance their own case separately if they wish to recover damages from the accident.
Following a major accident, if you or someone you love was involved in an accident with a driver who was operating their vehicle under the influence of an illicit substance, you may want to pursue charges. Depending on the severity, you may have medical expenses from subsequent medical visits or injuries that need continued treatment. You may also have sustained property damage to your vehicle because of the accident.
To receive damages and compensation for these costs, it is crucial that potential plaintiffs understand that criminal charges or an investigation against an at-fault party do not guarantee this. Instead, parties interested in filing a suit against a responsible party should keep detailed records of any medical visits and damage to their vehicle so that they can file a lawsuit in civil court. In addition, hiring experienced representation can ensure that your claim is evaluated by someone who understands how to operate within a complex legal system.
Do You Need an Indiana Personal Injury Attorney?
If you or someone you love has been recently injured or killed in an Indiana car accident, contact attorney Burton A. Padove. Attorney Padove has decades of experience representing clients in all types of personal injury claims, from car accidents to tractor-trailer accidents. To schedule a free consultation today, contact us at 877-446-5294.