Drunk Driving Accidents
People who drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are subject to harsh criminal penalties under New Jersey law. Despite this deterrent, far too many motorists still drink and drive, endangering the many innocent drivers, passengers, and pedestrians with whom they come into contact on the roadway. While the criminal court system can issue a fine, sentence a drunk driver to jail time, and even take away the defendant’s driving privileges, it is the civil court system that more effectively provides a means of seeking compensation for people who have been injured or have lost loved ones in such an accident. At Siegel & Siegel, P.C., our Middlesex County drunk driving accident lawyers represent people throughout Middlesex and Mercer Counties in their fight for justice following a drunk driving crash or another motor vehicle collision.Holding a Drunk Driver Accountable for Your Injuries
Drinking alcohol or taking drugs (or even certain prescription medications) can affect a driver’s ability to think clearly and to concentrate on the task of driving. It can also inhibit the motorist’s vision, slow his or her reaction time, and result in a general lack of coordination. For example, an intoxicated driver might not be able to react to slowed traffic in a normal way, leading to a rear-end collision. Another common sequence of events involving a drunk driver is when they do not see a red light or stop sign and plow through an intersection, causing a fatal or serious accident due to a failure to yield as required by law. Our drunk driving accident attorneys can help Middlesex County residents and other victims investigate the cause of the crash, often through witness testimony, accident reconstruction, and photographic evidence.
Generally, under New Jersey law, a person seeking compensation for injuries and other damages arising from a car accident has the burden of proving a case of negligence by a preponderance of the evidence. This involves issues such as duty of care, breach of duty, and causation. The comparative fault of the plaintiff may also be an issue, as may the degree of harm suffered by the plaintiff and whether his or her injuries were significant enough to take the case out of the no-fault provisions that apply to cases involving only property damage and minor injuries.
Since the State may also be prosecuting a DUI case against the defendant, the plaintiff may be able to base his or her case on a theory of negligence per se, rather than simple negligence. This means that the defendant is presumed to have been negligent because they broke a law that was intended to protect the safety of people like the plaintiff. This may make the process of proving liability more straightforward. Also, whether a defendant is actually convicted of DUI does not determine the outcome of the civil case. The prosecution might not be able to meet its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but a Middlesex County drunk driving accident attorney still might be able to meet the lesser burden in a civil car accident case.
Cases involving particularly egregious conduct such as intoxicated or drugged driving can provide a narrow exception to the rules excluding punitive damages in car accident cases. If the jury finds that the defendant’s conduct rises to a level that supports imposing damages beyond those necessary to compensate the plaintiff for his or her injuries, punitive damages may be awarded in addition to compensatory damages. Whether or not punitive damages are awarded, however, compensatory damages can cover a victim’s medical costs, lost income, property damage, pain and suffering, and any other damages arising from the accident.Contact a Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer in Middlesex County
Because of the time limitations on filing a claim for compensation following a drunk driving crash that resulted in serious injuries or death, it is important to schedule an appointment with an attorney to discuss your case in detail as soon as you can. At the law firm of Siegel & Siegel, P.C., we help victims throughout Middlesex, Mercer, Burlington, Monmouth, and Union Counties, including in Plainsboro, Cranbury, South Brunswick, North Brunswick, New Brunswick, Edison, Piscataway, Trenton, Princeton, Hamilton, and West Windsor. For a free case evaluation, call us now at 609-799-6066 or contact us online.