Few cities can say that they have a nightlife that is even close to being as vibrant as that of Las Vegas. Unfortunately, being in a city that never sleeps is not without its risks. Each year, thousands of people are injured or killed on Las Vegas roadways by drunk drivers.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a driver who was impaired by alcohol, a Las Vegas DUI accident lawyer at Pacific West Injury Law can help you understand your legal options for obtaining compensation to cover the expenses and impacts of your injury.
Types Of Compensation You Can Seek After A Drunk Driving Accident
The point of a personal injury lawsuit is to obtain compensation for the expenses and impacts that were incurred as a result of someone else’s careless or reckless behavior, such as driving while impaired by alcohol. This is known in the legal arena as “recovering damages.” The types of damages that can be recovered after a drunk driving accident include:
- Medical expenses
- Wage loss
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Repair or replacement of the vehicle you were driving when the accident occurred
- Mental or physical pain and suffering
In accident cases where the liable party was intoxicated, you will likely also be able to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are not awarded to replace losses suffered by an accident victim. Instead, they serve as a means of punishing the at-fault party for their actions.
The court will only approve punitive damages if the liable party was criminally negligent or acted with the intent of causing harm.
If You File A Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuit, Will Your Case Go To Court?
Contrary to how they’re portrayed on television, most legal claims are resolved without even being discussed in a courtroom. Because litigation is expensive and time-consuming, it is often in everyone’s best interests to resolve the claim by a negotiated settlement.
That said, drunk driving accident claims can and sometimes do wind up in court. Because of this, it is essential to choose a drunk driving accident attorney in Las Vegas who is comfortable with litigation.
How A Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer In Las Vegas Can Help You With Your Claim
An experienced Las Vegas drunk driving accident lawyer brings two extremely powerful tools to your claim: experience and guidance. Experience is important, as a drunk driving accident lawyer not only understands the legal process involved in seeking compensation, but also the types of evidence that can be used to prove your claim.
Additionally, they should have the ability to value your claim based not only on the expenses and impacts you have already experienced as a result of your injury but also on those you will likely face in the future. Equally important, however, is the Las Vegas drunk driving accident attorney’s ability to compassionately guide you through the personal injury claims process.
It is important to remember that the decisions regarding your case, including whether to accept an offered settlement or to proceed to litigation, are entirely yours to make. It is the goal of the Pacific West Injury Law legal team to make sure those decisions are informed ones.
Proving Liability In A Las Vegas Drunk Driving Accident
According to KSNV News 3, a recent study revealed that Las Vegas has more DUIs than any other city in the nation, with more than 4,300 drivers arrested for alcohol impairment on its streets each year. However, these numbers don’t reveal the true tragedy that results from these incidents: the number of lives lost or permanently altered due to drivers getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.
Those who have been injured by a drunk driving accident in Las Vegas can seek compensation through the personal injury claims process, which can include a personal injury lawsuit. However, in order to have a successful outcome to your claim, you must be able to prove liability (legal responsibility).
Showing The Driver Was Drunk
The simplest way to prove that the at-fault party in your car accident case was drunk at the time of the accident is by showing that they were arrested on suspicion of drunk driving at the time of the accident and were convicted of this charge. If the other driver was drunk, it goes a long way in proving that they are liable for the expenses and impacts of your injury.
However, because claims in civil court require a lower burden of proof than criminal cases, it is still possible to prove your claim even if the driver was not convicted. In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove that the defendant was guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Meanwhile, the burden of proof in civil claims is a “preponderance of evidence.”
What this means is that, based on the facts of the case, the accident was “more likely than not” caused in the manner that you claim it was. Evidence that can help satisfy this burden includes:
- Information from the police report regarding the driver’s behavior and appearance, such as the smell of alcohol on their breath, open alcohol containers in the vehicle, or statements made to the police by the at-fault party
- Results from chemical tests, such as blood alcohol breath or blood tests that reveal a level of impairment over .08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood, which is the legal impairment limit for operating a motor vehicle in Nevada
- Eyewitnesses or surveillance video that reveals how the accident occurred
Other Potentially Liable Parties In Your Las Vegas Drunk Driving Claim
In spite of the prevalence of liquor establishments in Las Vegas, Nevada does not have dram shop laws like most other states do that places liability on the owners or managers of these businesses if they over-serve a customer who later gets into a DUI accident, as noted by the Clark County Bar Association.
However, there are potentially other sources of liability besides the driver in a drunk driving accident. Other potentially liable parties include unlicensed individuals who give or sell alcohol to an underaged person and the owner of the vehicle if they knowingly allowed an intoxicated person to drive their car.
How Much Does A Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Charge?
People often neglect to hire a drunk driving accident lawyer because they worry they will not be able to afford to pay their legal fees. While many attorneys charge their clients a high hourly rate, this is not the payment model typically used by drunk-driving accident attorneys.
Instead, these lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. That means that the fee for their services is based entirely upon the outcome of your case. When you hire a drunk driving accident attorney, you will agree to pay their fee as a percentage of the money you recover from the liable party.
That means that your lawyer will certainly be motivated to get you as much money as possible since the greater your compensation, the bigger their payday. Alternatively, should they fail to get you money from the at-fault party, they won’t get paid for their services.
The Statute Of Limitations In Las Vegas Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuits
Each state has its own deadline for when drunk driving lawsuits must be filed in court in order for the claimant to retain their rights to compensation for their injuries. In Nevada, most personal injury claims – including those involving drunk driving accidents – must be filed within two years, as noted in Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) §11.190.
If you don’t file your lawsuit within this timeframe, you will likely lose your right to seek compensation from the liable party. However, this is not always the case. Special circumstances may apply to your situation, which allow you to file a lawsuit even after two years have passed.
At the same time, special circumstances can also further limit the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. You could find that, rather than two years, you are faced with only a few months to take action. An experienced attorney can help identify if your lawsuit needs to be filed sooner and expedite the process to ensure that all deadlines are met.
Contact Pacific West Injury Law For Help Today
At Pacific West Injury Law, we have helped countless accident victims recover the money they need after a crash. Our team of experienced drunk driving car accident lawyers will work hard to ensure you recover the compensation you need.
Let us help you explore your legal options after suffering an injury in a Las Vegas drunk driving accident. Contact us for your free case evaluation.