As the injured victim of a drunk driver, your mind immediately goes to responsibility for the crash. You want to know that the drunk driver will be held accountable for the destruction they’ve caused. But, are drunk drivers always at fault?
Injured victims are left to piece their lives back together. Compared to other types of accidents, a drunk driving crash is much more likely to cause severe injuries, life-altering disabilities, and long-term consequences like job loss, family disruption, and lasting emotional suffering.
Each year in Indiana, about 80 people lose their lives to drunk driving. This represents 8% of all accidents, with thousands of other injured people barely surviving horrific drunk driving crashes.
When Is a Drunk Driver Not at Fault?
As frustrating as it might be to hear, a drunk driver isn’t always 100% liable for a crash. Although their drunk driving is likely a criminal act, it might not be the sole contributor to your accident.
Imagine a situation where a drunk driver blows through a stop sign and hits your car, severely injuring you. The drunk driver is fully responsible for the crash because in this scenario, you had the right of way, and they caused the accident while driving drunk.
Now think about what could happen if some of the details were different. You were sober but accidentally ran a stop sign and hit another vehicle. They were driving drunk, yet they were otherwise following the rules of the road and had the right of way. When the police arrive at the scene, the person goes to jail for drunk driving, but you’re still wondering whether they’ll be held responsible for your injuries, car damages, and other costs.
Keep in mind that civil cases are different from criminal cases. Whether or not the drunk driver goes to jail or pays any criminal penalties is a separate matter for your county authorities to decide. It doesn’t necessarily impact your civil case against the drunk driver.
Can I Hold the Drunk Driver Responsible for My Costs?
When people ask, “Are drunk drivers always at fault for crashes?” they’re usually wondering how they’ll seek monetary compensation for their injuries and losses. In days after an accident, your family is concerned, you can’t work, your medical costs are piling up, and you need answers. It’s hard to focus on healing when you’re worried about everything else.
In Indiana personal injury cases, car accidents are evaluated according to the elements of negligence plus the 51% comparative contributory negligence rule. This means you can collect compensation only if you can establish your damages and show you were less than 51% at fault for the incident.
Drunkenness itself doesn’t automatically assign full liability. To claim injury compensation, you’ll still have to prove that the drunk driver holds most of the responsibility for the crash. Build your case based on the following elements.
Breach of duty
Drivers have a duty to follow the rules of the road, stay alert for hazards, and respect others’ safety. They breach this duty by doing negligent things like driving drunk, driving recklessly, speeding, and otherwise putting others’ safety at risk.
The proximate cause takes into account what could have been foreseen to cause the accident. If your injuries are far beyond what anyone, including the drunk driver, could have possibly foreseen, the drunk driver’s action might not be viewed as the proximate cause of your accident.
Cause in fact
The cause in fact focuses on the actual cause of the accident that led to your injuries. What was the direct cause of your accident? Would you have still suffered injuries even if the drunk driver wasn’t drunk?
The final element is the evidence of your damages. You must prove that you suffered compensable bodily injury, vehicle damages, lost wages, lost earning power, lifestyle harm, pain and suffering, and other damages depending on the situation. It’s essential to tie your losses directly to the accident and the other person’s negligence.
Many other potential factors and parties could be involved. At the time of your accident, was the drunk driver working for Uber or another rideshare service? Were they employed by a commercial trucking company or a government agency? Maybe a local bar overserved them and contributed to their drunk driving under Indiana’s dram shop laws.
Are Drunk Drivers Always at Fault? Ask Crossen Law Firm
When you’re wondering, “Is a drunk driver always at fault?” it’s time to talk to an Indiana personal injury lawyer about legal liability and claiming any compensation you’re due. Contact Crossen Law Firm as soon as possible. We’ll help you investigate who’s at fault and how drunk driving may factor into your crash.
Contact us at 317-401-8626 to learn more about your legal options, and we’ll offer you a free consultation. We have extensive experience with Indiana drunk driving cases, and our priority is always to help you secure the compensation you deserve so you can focus on your recovery.