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How victims prove liability after a drunk driving accident

Car accidents occur in California for many different reasons. In some cases, a driver distracted by a cellphone may have caused the accident. In others, it might have been a driver committing a traffic violation. And, unfortunately, many car accidents are caused by drunk drivers.

In the aftermath of an accident caused by a drunk driver, the injured victims may be wondering how to move forward with a personal injury lawsuit. In reality, proving liability in a case involving a drunk driver is not much different than it is in car accidents that occur due to other reasons. The main goal is to show that the defendant in the case had a duty to the injured party, breached that duty, caused the accident and injuries resulted.

However, victims who were hit by a drunk driver may have a powerful tool at their disposal: the drunk driver's conviction on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol. The burden in a criminal case to prove that a person was driving drunk is much higher than it is in a civil lawsuit.

In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove the elements of the case, "beyond a reasonable doubt." This is an extremely high bar to liability. But, in a personal injury case, the burden is lower: by a "preponderance of the evidence." Essentially, just more likely than not. As such, if one was convicted at the criminal level, proving their liability at the civil level is much easier.

Our readers can probably tell that pursuing damages is complicated. However, these cases can be easier, with the help of an attorney.

Source:, "Drunk Driving Accidents," accessed on May 6, 2017

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