Encountering a drunk driver is not something Connecticut drivers think about every time they get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Unfortunately, though, some motorists believe that they are fine to operate a vehicle after they have consumed alcoholic beverages. Whether a person is over the limit or not, this alcohol use could greatly impair his or her ability to safely operate an automobile. Thus, even if it is not clear if alcohol is a factor, victims of a car crash should consider this a possible cause and a reason to try to hold a negligent driver liable.
How can a victim prove a drunk driver was liable in a crash? Many are under the assumption that a drunk driver who hits them is automatically considered completely at fault. The truth of the matter is that automobile collisions can be complex, making it difficult to discern the actual cause or causes. Thus, it is important to assess the facts involved in the crash, helping one understand what directly led to the incident.
The basics for determining fault and liability in a drunk driving accident require looking at five elements. The first is duty, which means that motorists have the duty to follow traffic rules and regulations and to respect the safety of others. The second element is a breach of this duty. This could occur when a driver is speeding, driving recklessly or is impaired. The next element is cause in fact, which means that the fact that the motorist was impaired was the actual cause of the accident. The fourth element is proximate cause, which focuses on whether the injuries suffered were reasonably foreseeable. Finally, the last element is damages, which refers to a victim suffering actual compensatory losses such as medical expenses and lost wages.
While a drunk driver could be the only cause of an accident, other factors could also play a role. A poorly designed road, another negligent driver, or even the victim motorist being distracted can all contribute to a wreck. Contributory negligence could be a factor, thus should not be overlooked when pursuing a legal action against a drunk driver. While this does not mean there isn’t a valid claim against a drunk driver, it might mean a victim must take additional steps to prove fault and liability and protect themselves from counter-claims of negligence.
Source: FindLaw, “I Was Hit by a Drunk Driver: Who is Liable?” accessed August 20, 2017