• Ronald Wittmeyer
  • March 8, 2014

After a late night, the last thing you need is a DUI car accident. Generally, when people think about driving under the influence, they immediately associate the action with criminal charges. If you are driving with a blood-alcohol content of more than .08 in the state of Illinois, you may be arrested and prosecuted for driving under the influence. Penalties for breaking this law include but are not limited to: large fines, license suspension, jail time, community service and vehicle registration suspension. But, what most people don’t know is that if there is bodily harm involved in the DUI car accident, the charge may be upped from a misdemeanor to a felony and perpetrators may also face civil liability if they are sued by their victims.

A civil suit for drunk driving is a completely separate proceeding from the state’s criminal suit against the perpetrator. These lawsuits appear in the form of personal injury suits filed by the victims of drunk drivers who were injured in the DUI car accident, or in the case of a death, by the victim’s next of kin. These suits are intended to give the victim or their families some sort of recovery for the wrong that has been done.

If you were injured by a drunk driver, your only recourse for damages lies within civil prosecution. Generally, the defendant is liable for all injuries directly resulting from his or her wrongful act or omission, as long as they are a natural consequence of that act or omission and could reasonably have been anticipated. Therefore, if you can prove that the damages you sustained in the car accident flowed from that driver’s act or omission, recovery for damages if available.

In a civil suit in Illinois, it is possible that a victim may recover future damages, actual damages and punitive damages.  If you are injured by a drunk driver in a DUI car accident, similarly to other car accidents, you could recover damages for many injuries, including aggravations of pre-existing ailments, disabilities, disfigurement, loss of a normal life, loss of earnings or profits, past and future pain and suffering, and past and future medical expenses. In assessing these damages, the courts must base a damages award or verdict on the evidence and not upon speculation, prejudice, or sympathy. Damages must also be based on the nature, extent, and duration of the injuries.

These civil suits against drunk drivers are mechanisms that are employed to insure that victims of DUI car accidents can recover from the injuries that they sustained while also acting as a deterrent to drunk driving. Either way, the moral of the story is that driving under the influence is wrong. And in Illinois, the penalties drunk drivers face go beyond that of the criminal arena.

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