Each year, thousands of people are injured or killed on Seattle roadways by drunk drivers.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a driver who was impaired by alcohol, a Seattle 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 Seattle who is comfortable with litigation.
How A Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer In Seattle Can Help You With Your Claim
An experienced Seattle 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 Seattle 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 Seattle Drunk Driving Accident
Those who have been injured by a drunk driving accident in Seattle 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 Washington
- Eyewitnesses or surveillance video that reveals how the accident occurred
Two Types of Dram Shop Cases in Washington
In Washington State, there are two types of dram shop cases: (i) first-party dram cases and (ii) third-party dram cases.
A first-party dram shop case can be pursued when a drinking establishment (such as a bar) or a liquor store sells or serves alcohol to a minor and the drunk minor suffers bodily harm as a result of consuming alcohol purchased or sold.
A third-party dram shop cases arises when a drinking establishment sells alcohol to an already-intoxicated person, and that person then causes injury or death to someone else. A prime example of a third-party dram shop case involves a bar continuing to serve alcohol to an intoxicated customer, and that person drives drunk, seriously injuring or killing someone else.
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.
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 Seattle drunk driving accident. Contact us for your free case evaluation.