Protecting Your Rights After a Drunk Driving Accident
Despite some of the strictest drunk driving laws in the country, Utah is still home to tens of thousands of drunk driving arrests every year. Annually, hundreds of people are killed and thousands more are injured by drunk drivers throughout the state, making this one of the biggest risks we face on our highways and roads.
If you or someone you love was involved in an accident with a drunk driver, you are likely dealing with numerous physical, emotional, and financial challenges. At Injury Smart Law, we are here to help. Based in St. George with offices also in Cedar City. Mesquite and Salt Lake, our drunk driving accident attorneys represent severely injured victims and the loved ones of those wrongfully killed in drunk driving accidents across the state. With more than two decades of experience and millions of dollars in compensation recovered for our clients, we have what it takes to aggressively advocate for you and your recovery.
What is the Difference Between a Criminal DUI Case & A Drunk Driving Accident Claim?
Like every other state in the U.S., Utah has laws prohibiting driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Known as a DUI, a criminal drunk driving charge can result in serious penalties for the offender, including jail time, thousands of dollars in fines, and driver’s license revocation. While these penalties serve to punish the drunk driver – and, theoretically, deter others from driving motor vehicles while under the influence of alcohol – all things considered, they do little to help victims of drunk driving accidents.
This is where drunk driving accident claims come in. A drunk driving accident lawsuit is a civil case brought by the victim (or the surviving loved one of a deceased victim) against the offender. It is entirely separate from any criminal or administrative proceedings the drunk driver may (or may not) face – the outcome of a criminal DUI case does not necessarily affect the outcome of a civil personal injury lawsuit.
The purpose of a civil drunk driving accident lawsuit is to hold the drunk driver accountable for the harm they may have caused the victim. Specifically, a successful case results in the victim recovering financial compensation for specific damages resulting from the accident.
Depending on the details of your case, you may be able to recover compensation for the following damages in your drunk driving accident claim:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income/wages
- Miscellaneous out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
Because Utah follows a no-fault system, you can only recover full compensation for your damages, including non-economic damages, if you bring a third-party injury claim against the drunk driver’s insurance company or sue the driver directly. To do this, you will need to prove that your medical expenses exceeded $3,000 or your injuries meet the state’s “serious injury” threshold, or both.
Is Drunk Driving Always Considered Negligence?
Because driving under the influence of alcohol is a crime in Utah, it is always considered negligent or wrongful conduct. As such, drunk drivers are nearly always liable for accidents in which they are involved.
In 2018, Utah enacted the strictest DUI law in the nation. Under the law, a person can be arrested for and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol if they:
- Are impaired to the point of being unable to drive safely, regardless of blood alcohol level
- Operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05% or higher
- Operate a truck or commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or higher
- Are under the age of 21 and drive with any detectable alcohol in their system
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs isn’t just a crime, it’s altogether extremely negligent. The dangers of drunk driving are well documented and widely known, and anyone who chooses to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol is knowingly putting others at risk.
At Injury Smart Law, we believe that everyone deserves justice, including you. Our drunk driving accident attorneys are here to fight for you and the recovery you are owed. Accordingly, we strive to hold drunk drivers financially accountable for the immense harm they cause, as well as help victims secure the critical resources they need to heal.
We offer free initial consultations, and our attorneys will be personally involved in your case, you can rely on us to answer your questions, communicate often and honestly regarding your case, and provide the tireless support and advocacy you deserve.