Driving under the influence can come with consequences that can be life-altering. There are a variety of ways that things may play out. Finding yourself facing a car crash while driving under the influence is quite possibly one of the worst possible situations you could find yourself in. As a result, you may be dealing with both criminal charges from the DUI and a civil case should the driver of the other vehicle suffer damages. Contacting a lawyer with knowledge with both areas of practice may be in your best interest to ensure that your rights are protected. 

What is the difference between a civil suit and a criminal charge?

If you are unfamiliar with the court system, you may be unaware that criminal and civil cases are two completely different legal situations. If you caused a car accident as a result of driving under the influence, you might be contending with both:

Criminal Case: Following a DUI charge, you will be fighting with the criminal court system. Criminal cases are brought forth by the state’s attorney’s office. If there was a victim involved, it is not their responsibility to prosecute the case. The case could result in consequences that are handed down to the court system that could include: fines, jail time, probation, and more. 

Civil Case: Civil cases are brought forth by a plaintiff who claims that another person’s actions were negligent. As a result of the damages that were sustained by the victim, they will be asking for compensation. 

If I fight my DUI charge and win, what is the likelihood that I will also have to face a car accident claim?

Yes. Keep in mind that criminal and civil cases are separate. Just because you are not convicted of a DUI does not mean that the accident victim will not still take steps to obtain compensation for the damages they will be facing. 

How long should I worry about a civil suit? Does everyone move forward with seeking damages? 

While not everyone immediately moves forward with pursuing a car accident case, you will want to pay attention to the statute of limitations. This is the time from the accident or discovery of injuries that the victim has to take legal action. Once the statute of limitations has expired, there will be few opportunities to move forward with pursuing damages.

If I caused a car accident while under the influence, will my insurance company cover the victim’s settlement? 

If you have been convicted with a DUI and are currently involved in a car accident claim that has been brought against you, you may be wondering whether your insurance company will provide you with coverage. This can vary depending upon your insurance company, so it’s best to review your policy. Insurance companies do not provide coverage for conduct that is considered intentional. If your insurance company thinks a DUI is intentional conduct, coverage for damages could result in a claim denial. 

Can I use the same lawyer to represent me in both cases?

Yes- you can use the same lawyer to represent you with both cases. However, you will want to make sure that your lawyer has experience representing both types of cases. This is because lawyers do not usually practice all areas of the law.

Drinking and driving is incredibly risky; not only is it dangerous, the consequences can be substantial. If you had a lapse in judgment that resulted in both a DUI charge and a car accident, you could be facing severe consequences. Putting your best foot forward with the help of an experienced lawyer, like a car accident lawyer can prepare your case, provide you with guidance, and represent you in the best way possible. Don’t delay in contacting a lawyer today.