Ball State may not be Indiana’s number-one party school, but the campus and surrounding Muncie area are as prone to drunk driving accidents as anywhere else in Indiana. Despite the fact that drunk drivers can face felony charges, years in prison, and significant fines, there are still residents who get behind the wheel after one too many drinks.
If you find yourself in an accident with a drunk driver, what can you do? While a prosecutor has to initiate a criminal case against the offending party, you have the right to demand damages for your losses in civil court. You can work with a Muncie car accident lawyer through Vaughan & Vaughan to bring your case to a judge’s attention.
Drunk Driving Constitutes a Criminal Offense in Muncie, IN
Indiana state law technically refers to its driving under the influence, or DUI, cases as “operating while intoxicated,” or OWI, cases. These laws declare that anyone over the age of 21 operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08% or higher should not be on the road.
A person’s first OWI offense can see them face up to 60 days in jail, fines of up to $500, and a license suspension of up to half a year. These consequences compound on themselves when officers consider the damage done in a drunk driving accident as well as the offending driver’s existing criminal record.
For example, if a drunk driving accident results in the severe injury or death of another party, the legal consequences that the drunk driver faces can jump from 60 days in jail to up to a decade in prison. As of 2023, a family in Bloomington, IN, is pursuing a case that may use this precedent to punish a drunk driver with several years in prison.
Pursuing Criminal and Civil Cases at the Same Time
It takes a prosecutor to initiate a criminal case against someone after a drunk driving accident. That said, you have the right to bring a civil case forward against an offending party on your own time. You can work with a drunk driving accident attorney in Muncie to initiate an investigation into your losses and bring forward evidence of a driver’s negligence.
You will, however, want to keep an ear to the ground should a prosecutor take up a criminal case against the party you’ve named as liable for your losses in your complaint. If a criminal court finds the named party guilty of criminal misconduct, then you can bring that verdict forward along with your case. A guilty conviction constitutes proof of negligence for many civil courts.
In other words, a criminal OWI conviction can make it easier for you to secure the compensation you need to recover from a drunk driving accident.
The Benefits of Filing a Civil Drunk Driving Claim
Why might you want to pursue a civil drunk driving claim after the trauma of your accident? There are several benefits to the pursuit of legal action in civil court, including opportunities to:
Control How Your Case Progresses
Talking to the person responsible for a drunk driving accident can prove difficult for a lot of accident survivors. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to distance yourself from the person who introduced so much pain and suffering into your life. That said, filing a drunk driving claim against a liable party allows you to control how you interact with them.
You can, for example, choose to negotiate with the person responsible for your recent drunk driving accident. While doing so may be emotionally difficult, the process can secure you the compensation you need to recover from your accident much faster than a traditional trial might.
If you’d rather have someone else oversee your case, you can request that a Muncie drunk driving accident lawyer take your case before a judge. You can then place your right to accident compensation in the hands of a jury and limit the amount of time you have to spend in a liable party’s company.
Secure Damages for Your Losses
Victims of drunk driving accidents like you often require emergency medical attention and long-term care in the wake of a crash. What’s more, you may need to replace your car or other property damaged in your accident. You might also not have the means to work while you’re recovering, meaning that your paycheck may take a hit.
What are you meant to do financially in the face of all of these new difficulties? You can file a personal injury claim against the party responsible for your accident. Personal injury claims allow you to demand damages equivalent to or greater than the value of your drunk driving accident-related losses.
You may specifically have the right to both economic and non-economic drunk driving damages, including:
- Property damage
- Medical expenses and long-term care
- Lost wages and compensation for lack of employment
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
What to Include in Your Civil Drunk Driving Claim
Your drunk driving accident falls under the umbrella of Indiana’s personal injury accidents. This means that you have to abide by Indiana’s personal injury statute of limitations if you want to demand damages equivalent to or exceeding the value of your case.
Indiana outlines its personal injury statute of limitations in Indiana Code section 34-11-2-4. You have no more than two years to investigate your losses and bring a comprehensive complaint forward in civil court. If you fail to file your complaint within this deadline, Indiana courts can deny you your right to legal action.
Vaughan & Vaughan Help You Recover From Drunk Driving Accidents
No one should get behind the wheel after one too many drinks. Even so, there are countless news reports in Muncie and beyond describing devastating accidents involving drunk drivers and their victims. If you or someone you know recently got into an accident with a drunk driver, know that you have the right to take action in the face of that person’s negligence.
While a prosecutor has to initiate a criminal case against an offending driver, you can demand damages for your losses in civil court. The Muncie drunk driving accident attorneys with Vaughan & Vaughan can help you compose your complaint and defend your right to financial support. You can contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.