In the State of Missouri in 2011, a person was killed or injured in drinking-related traffic crashes every 2.3 hours, according to statistics compiled by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT). Of those accidents, a total of 208 people were killed and 3,625 were injured in those accidents. As drinking-and-driving seemingly remains a common act, many people are left to suffer the very real consequences of a drunk driver’s choice to get behind the wheel.
A deadly combination of alcohol and operating a motor vehicle creates a looming threat to all those out on the roadway. Unfortunately, due to the nature of alcohol’s effect on the body, drinking-related accidents can happen far too easily due to delayed reaction times and overall unawareness of the drunk driver. However, those injured by drunk drivers can seek haven in tort law to seek out justice against their assailants. Furthermore, families of those killed by drinking-related traffic crashes can do just the same and hold those accountable who have taken their loved ones from them.
Just this November, an innocent pedestrian was struck and killed by a suspected drunk driver in the City of St. Louis. Just a week later, a child was killed, and another child was severely injured, in St. Louis County as a result of a drinking-related accident by a suspected drunken driver who had 10 previous drunk driving arrests. Litters of other stories can be found like this just inside the St. Louis area.
While the community can continue to rely on law enforcement to help enforce DWI/DUI laws, those harmed by drunk drivers can also rely on help from plaintiff lawyers to receive their deserved compensation and begin to right the wrongs done to them. Drunk drivers can be held accountable for the damage to a victim’s car, a victim’s medical bills, pain and suffering, and numerous other expenses or losses that can occur as the result of becoming the victim of a drinking-related traffic accident.
Furthermore, many suspected drunk drivers have sought asylum from highly competent criminal defense counsel that are able to grill law enforcement officers on DWI arrests. While one might be discouraged from the drunk drivers’ ability to, at times, avoid criminal liability, one must also remember that criminal defendants have the benefit of the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. This makes it much harder to secure a favorable result and to seek justice against drunk driving.
However, tort claims arising from drinking-related accidents subjects the drunk driver to the civil arena’s “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This standard is a much lower bar than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. It means that injured plaintiffs, or families seeking justice in wrongful death claims, need only prove their story more likely happened than not. A classic example of these two legal standards at work is the OJ Simpson case. While Simpson was acquitted of two criminal murder charges (beyond a reasonable doubt standard), he was found liable in the civil wrongful death claims (preponderance of the evidence standard). Thus, while one may not be able to take advantage of the criminal justice system to go after drunk drivers, those who have been harmed by drunk drivers can pursue civil claims against the drunk drivers using talented plaintiff lawyers.
While drinking and driving remains all too common, seeking recovery from drunk drivers who cause accidents need not be uncommon. People who are hurt, or the loved ones of those who have been killed by the injustice of drinking-related accidents need only seek out justice in the civil tort system.