Drunk Driving Accidents (DUI/DWI)
Often, an innocent victim pays the ultimate price for drunk driving. In spite of public awareness about the risks of driving under the influence, many people continue to imbibe and get behind the wheel. Sometimes they do this even after one or more criminal DUI convictions. If you are injured or a loved one is killed in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, you can consult the Albuquerque lawyers at the Fine Law Firm to explore your options.Seeking Compensation from a Drunk Driver
Charges may be brought against a drunk driver in criminal court. Even if the defendant is not convicted, moreover, you can potentially bring a lawsuit against him or her in civil court. Different standards of proof apply in criminal and civil court, and the standard in civil court ("preponderance of the evidence") is much easier to meet than the criminal standard of proof. You may be able to recover both compensatory damages and punitive damages from a drunk driver who caused you to suffer serious injuries. Punitive damages are awarded both to punish and deter, and the amount varies depending on what would be necessary to accomplish those purposes.
However, even if you can get a judgment in a civil case, you may not be able to recover the full amount of damages if the drunk driver does not have an insurance policy with significant coverage or does not have assets. New Mexico has a dram shop law (New Mexico Statutes Annotated, section 41-11-1) that can impose liability on an establishment or homeowner that serves alcohol to someone who is already intoxicated. It may be helpful to sue an establishment under dram shop laws. However, in dram shop and social host lawsuits, the bodily injury damages are capped at $50,000 per person or $100,000 per accident.
You can potentially recover compensation from a bar, for example, if you show it sold alcohol to the defendant while he or she was already drunk, his or her drunkenness was "reasonably apparent," and the server knew or should have known from the circumstances that the person was drunk. All of this may be proved through circumstantial evidence.
You can also try to hold a social host liable if he or she gives alcohol to guests recklessly in disregard of the rights of others, including the drunken guest. For example, if a person goes to a party, the host of the party may notice that this person is staggering around and speaking unintelligibly but still serve him drinks. If the drunk driver is speeding and crashes into you, causing you to suffer paralysis, you can sue both the driver and the host. You would have to prove that the host served the alcohol in reckless disregard of your rights and the defendant’s rights.Discuss Your DUI Accident Claim with an Albuquerque Lawyer
After a DUI crash in Albuquerque or the surrounding communities, an attorney may be able to devise multiple strategies you can use in order to seek compensation for your injuries. It is important to retain a legal professional who understands the different possible avenues of relief. At the Fine Law Firm, we are experienced trial attorneys who can help you pursue the greatest amount of compensation possible under the circumstances. Contact us via our online form or call us at (505) 243-4541 to schedule a free consultation. The Fine Law Firm also represents accident victims in Rio Rancho and other areas of New Mexico.