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The Other Driver Had a DUI in the Past. Does That Affect My Case?

Drinking and driving is a serious offense, but unfortunately, it happens too often. When an accident happens, you may not always think about whether the other driver involved was driving while intoxicated. However, what happens when you find out later that the other driver was intoxicated?

What if he or she has a DUI or multiple ones in the past? Does that affect your case? We have asked attorney, Alaina Sullivan, about what you should do. Here is what she had to say:

The Question of Fault

In some states, fault is not a consideration when it comes to car accidents. Twelve states in the United States currently have no fault insurance laws, which essentially make the driver file a claim on his or her own insurance policy, even if that person may not have caused the car accident.

It completely takes fault out of the equation; so, the fact that the other driver has a history of drunken driving will not come into question because his or her fault will not be considered.

However, if your state does have fault-based system when it comes to personal injury cases, the other driver’s history of drunk driving can be considered, depending on the facts behind the accident.

Was He or She Drunk Now?

The biggest question will be was he or she drunk with this specific accident? If you are trying to bring up the driver’s bad driving history, it will not really matter or be relevant if he or she was not intoxicated during your accident.

You could attempt to bring up the history of drunk driving if you are attempting to show that he or she traditionally makes bad decisions and is a reckless driver. However, the bad decision you are attempting to connect would likely need to be another incident of a DUI. Otherwise, it looks like you are just bringing up bad behavior for the sake of doing so.

The Other Driver Had a DUI in the Past. Does That Affect My Case?

Punitive Damages

However, bringing up the other driver’s past history of DUI offenses could be extremely relevant if you are seeking punitive damages. These damages are set to “punish” the at-fault driver and attempt to prevent future bad behavior.

Normally punitive damages are issued in situations where the driver was exhibiting extreme or reckless behavior, and arguably, drunk driving would be a situation where the behavior could be seen as extreme or reckless.

If the other driver was drunk during your current accident, and he or she is trying to say that this is a rare and isolated occurrence, finding past DUI arrests could be one way of showing that he or she got behind the wheel intoxicated, without any regard for the safety of others on the road.

This type of evidence would be a surefire way to go after punitive damages, on top of those already being sought.

Comparative Negligence

Another situation where bringing up the other driver’s DUI offenses would be relevant is if you are attempting to reduce your own fault. If you are in a state where comparative negligence is used, and you are the driver who is considered “at-fault,” comparative negligence allows you to reduce the amount of liability you hold based upon the percentage of fault the other driver also played into the accident.

If the other driver was not the main cause of the accident but he or she was intoxicated, as well, you could use the fact that the other driver had a previous history of DUI offenses to help reduce your own liability.

You could argue that he or she was irresponsible getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, even considering the fact that he or she was in trouble for doing the same exact thing previously. That adds an element of negligence to your claim that could help reduce your own percentage of fault.

Contact an Attorney Today

If you have been in a car accident, the other driver was under the influence of alcohol and you have questions about your ability to seek payment for your injuries, it is always recommended you contact an attorney today to discuss your case if you do not currently have a lawyer or have any questions.

A licensed personal injury attorney will be able to evaluate your case and determine if you have a claim against the other party’s insurance company. To receive the compensation for your medical bills, property damages, and pain and suffering, you should speak with a personal injury attorney in your area today.

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