One of the most pernicious effects of drunk driving on Ohio roads and highways is the destruction that drunk drivers inflict in the form of property damage and wrecked lives of those with whom they collide. Ohio law allows anyone so injured, or in the worst case his or her estate, to recover from the drunk driver, his or her insurer, or both through a negligence or wrongful death lawsuit.
While proving that the other driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident is not an essential element of proving your case for an award of damages, negligence can be established independently of drunk driving. As long as you can show that the other driver owed you a duty of care, breached that duty and you were proximately harmed as a result. If you also establish that the other driver was, in fact, a drunk driver, it may have an enhancing effect on the damages to which you may be entitled and particularly with regard to punitive damages.
Assuming that the other driver has an attorney, proper preparation of your case must anticipate the types of drunk driving defenses that the other driver may raise in an attempt to disprove that he or she was intoxicated at the time of the accident. Some of these defenses may be the same as those commonly seen in criminal prosecutions for drunk driving.
For example, an improperly administered or inaccurate breath or blood test or an improperly administered field sobriety test. Even more unorthodox defenses must be contemplated, such as a claim that the intoxicated person was not the actual driver when the accident happened.
The selection of the law firm to represent you in a personal injury case in which the intoxication of the other driver is a factor should include consideration of whether the law firm has experience in negotiating and litigating negligence or wrongful death cases that have involved drunk driving or driving while under the influence of drugs.
The ability to defeat defenses to these behaviors while proving the other elements of your case can have a significant impact on the amount of damages you may receive either in settlement or in a court award.