There are many reasons why you could end up on a stretcher after a car accident, badly injured. One reason is that you were unfortunate enough to be injured by a drunk driver. Surely the drunk driver will get arrested by the police and you will get some kind of compensation for the cost of your injuries? If the police charge the driver, do you need to sue the driver separately for damages?
30-year-old Iris Franklin was killed by another driver, Natalie Duvernay, a year ago on Mississippi’s Highway 90 in Pass Christian. Duvernay has just been convicted of felony DUI as a result of the death, which happened when the 35-year-old woman crashed into Franklin’s vehicle at 70 mph in a 45 mph speed zone. Franklin was tested for alcohol and was discovered to have greater than three times the legal limit of alcohol in her blood at the time of the accident.
Iris Franklin will never have the chance to wonder whether it was possible to sue the drunk driver who killed her, but it remains a distinct possibility for her dependent family if she has one. Despite a conviction, the injured victim of a drunk driving accident, or the family of someone who has been killed by a drunk driver, is not automatically compensated for the often huge financial burden that a serious injury can involve.
A charge of DUI may lead to a criminal conviction, but it still leaves you without anything except a sense of satisfaction that justice has been done. To obtain compensation for the cost of medical treatment, lost earnings, and the emotional suffering and physical pain of the injury, you will need to sue the driver through a civil court. The only useful aspect of the criminal charge laid against the driver is that it may be easier to prove fault.
So, what do you need to do if you are injured by a drunk driver?
The main priority after any car accident is to get medical treatment for anyone who needs it and make sure everyone is safe. The police need to be informed. If at all possible, if you can obtain any evidence at the crash site do so. Every shred of evidence counts, even if the other driver is found to be DUI and is arrested.
f you go ahead and file a personal injury claim against the other driver, your claim will be made to the driver’s insurance provider, assuming that he or she was adequately insured. Mississippi has what is called a modified comparative negligence rule which means that if it is considered that you were partly to blame for the accident, you may only be able to obtain a percentage of what you decide to claim. The worst-case scenario is that the insurance adjuster claims that you were more than 50% to blame for the accident, even if the insurer’s client was found to be drunk at the time. This may mean that you would not be able to obtain any compensation at all.
Because of the obstacles to obtaining compensation, you are advised to discuss the accident with an experienced Jackson car accident attorney. The attorney will assess your chances of success if you do decide to go ahead and sue the driver. The attorney may advise waiting to see whether the other driver is actually convicted of a DUI offense as this conviction may actually increase your chance of winning compensation.
Mississippi allows three years after a car accident to file a personal injury claim. After that, it is highly unlikely that you would be allowed to go ahead with a claim. This might seem quite a long time, but generally, it is best to file a claim earlier rather than later, taking into account what has been said about waiting to see whether the other driver is convicted of DUI. Most witnesses are more likely to remember events clearly closer to the time of an accident and evidence is easier to obtain.
Your attorney will help you to establish a clear link between the negligent actions of the other driver and your own injuries. The fact that the driver was behaving erratically before the crash, speeding, driving aggressively, asleep, running a red light, failing to yield the right of way, or failing to stop at a stop sign, may be as important as being able to state that the driver was drunk at the same time of the accident.