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Can You Pursue a Lawsuit Against A Drunk Driver?

Feb 7, 2023 | Auto Accident


If you sustain injuries due to a drunk driver’s negligence, you can pursue a lawsuit against the drunk driver. To win the lawsuit, you’ll need to prove that the driver was negligent to win your case.

While drinking and driving is a violation of the law, it doesn’t automatically make the other driver negligent. For example, if you rear-end another car while that car is waiting at a red light, you would be the negligent party in the accident, regardless of the other driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC)

To better understand the circumstances when you can pursue a lawsuit against a drunk driver, we’ll evaluate what you must prove in these cases.

Negligence in Drunk Driving Cases

The most important element of any auto accident case is negligence. You’ll need to prove that the other driver was negligent to receive compensation. Negligence has four components.

  1. Duty of care: the other person involved must have had a duty of care toward you. All drivers have a duty of care toward other motorists when they operate a vehicle, so this one is a given in car accidents.
  2. Breach of duty: the other driver’s actions breached that duty of care because they failed to act appropriately when behind the wheel. This might be through speeding, failing to obey posted traffic signs or signals, or driving recklessly, such as weaving in and out of traffic. 
  3. Causation: the driver’s breached duty of care directly caused your injuries. Therefore, getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated is not in and of itself negligent. The driver must cause harm for another party to have a case.
  4. Damages: the other party involved in the accident sustained damages due to the breached duty of care. So just because a drunk driver hit you does not mean that you can seek financial retribution. You must sustain a personal financial loss to have a case.

While looking at these elements, you might feel overwhelmed by having to prove all four. However, that’s the role of a car accident attorney. Because these attorneys work with these elements regularly, they generally know at a glance which cases include negligence and which do not.

Evidence That Helps Prove Negligence

One of the key pieces of evidence in your accident will be the driver’s blood alcohol content. But several other pieces of evidence will be important in proving your case. Here’s a look at the evidence that can help you prove negligence if you’ve suffered injuries due to a drunk driver.

  • Driving records
  • Medical charts and bills
  • Photos or video of the accident or the accident scene
  • Police report
  • Weather reports
  • Witness testimony or statements
  • Expert witnesses, such as accident specialists or traffic experts

Indiana Comparative Fault Laws

Even once you prove negligence in the case, you’ll face scrutiny for your actions behind the wheel. The drunk driver’s attorneys will work to prove that you were partially at fault for the accident. While the drunk driver did not drive with the duty of care that they should have, you also could have avoided the accident had you acted differently. 

Because Indiana has a comparative fault law, this could impact your final compensation. The courts will decrease your final settlement amount by the percentage they find you were at fault for the accident. It’s one of the most important reasons you should hire an attorney when pursuing an Indiana car accident lawsuit. Without an attorney, the other driver’s legal team will present evidence against you that you’ll struggle to prove isn’t true.

Contact Stewart & Stewart today. We’ll help you get the compensation you deserve after you’ve been hurt by a drunk driver. You do not have to suffer financial damages due to someone else’s poor choices. 

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