Who has a Civil Claim for Damages in a Drunk Driving Accident?

If a drunk driver caused your car accident, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries under North Carolina law. Drivers have a duty to drive with reasonable care. Negligent drivers breach that duty and North Carolina courts will hold them responsible for any injuries their negligence caused. Due to North Carolina’s contributory negligence doctrine, recovering compensation in a car accident can be challenging.

North Carolina Drunk Driving Accident Compensation Lawyers

Arnold & Smith, PLLC we have helped many Charlotte car accident victims recover compensation. We offer clients three office locations in Monroe, Lake Norman, and Charlotte, North Carolina. Our attorneys work hard to give each of our clients the personal attention they deserve.

Coping with injuries from a collision caused by a drunk driver is stressful and overwhelming. One of our skilled personal injury attorneys can sit down with you and evaluate your case. We can advise you as to whether you have a viable civil claim for damages resulting from your drunk driving accident. Contact our law firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.

North Carolina Drunk Driving Lawsuits

If you have suffered injuries caused by a drunk driver, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit alleging negligence. If your loved one died as a result of an accident caused by a drunk driver, a personal representative may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Personal injury lawsuits based on negligence claims have several elements that a successful plaintiff must prove.

First, a duty of care must exist between the driver and the injured party. This element is typically easy to meet in drunk driving accidents. All drivers owe other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians a duty of reasonable care. Those who drive while drunk breach their duty of reasonable care.

Next, the defendant must have breached his duty of care. Drivers who choose to drive while intoxicated do not use reasonable care. As long as the plaintiff has evidence that the driver did drive while drunk, proving a breach of the duty of care should be relatively easy to do.

Third, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant's breach of duty was the actual and proximate cause of his or her injuries. The plaintiff needs to prove that, but for the defendant's drunk driving, he or she would not have suffered any injuries. Additionally, the plaintiff must show that his or her injuries were a foreseeable cause of the driver's negligent behavior. If the drunk driver collided with the injured party and the injured party was not at fault, the plaintiff should be able to prove cause relatively easily.

The Contributory Negligence Doctrine in North Carolina

Demonstrating that a drunk driver breached his or her duty of care and caused the plaintiff's injury can be straightforward. Proving that the injured party was not at fault can be more challenging. North Carolina holds to the doctrine of contributory negligence. If the injured party is even 1% at fault for the accident, the court will bar him or her from recovering damages.

Thankfully, an exception exists when a driver's willful or wanton conduct caused the accident. Courts typically consider driving while intoxicated to be willful and wanton behavior. Even if the victim was partially at fault for the accident, he or she could still recover against a drunk driver whose willful or wanton conduct caused the accident.

Drunk Driving Wrongful Death Lawsuits

If your loved one passed away as a result of a drunk driving accident, you might be entitled to compensation via a wrongful death lawsuit. According to North Carolina law, wrongful death is a death caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another. The deceased’s personal representative can file a civil lawsuit requesting compensation on behalf of the surviving family members.

The personal representative of the deceased must file the wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the date of death. Successful plaintiffs are entitled to damages for funeral expenses, pain, suffering, medical expenses, lost income, and loss of companionship.

We can Help

At Arnold & Smith, PLLC we have helped many clients recover compensation for damages caused by a drunk driver. Our personal injury attorneys fight vigorously for the rights of our clients. We can assist you throughout the entire legal process. Contact our Charlotte law firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.

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