In an accident that can only be described as tragically ironic, an off duty central Indiana police officer rear ended another vehicle, killing one passenger and seriously injuring another and her unborn child. According to a report on Tristatehomepage.com, the Edgewood Indiana police officer was off duty on the evening of April 6, 2014 when he slammed into another vehicle and pushed it into a utility pole. The other vehicle was sandwiched between the officer’s car and the pole, which caused the injuries and death. After the accident, the officer was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence and booked into the local jail.
The Dangers of Drunk Driving
When someone is intoxicated and gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, the risk of an accident increases dramatically. This danger only increases at night, which is when most drunk driving incidents and arrests occur. Alcohol and drugs can reduce a driver’s reaction time, impair vision and hearing, and lead to poor judgment. Drunk drivers are also more likely to speed and ignore traffic laws, further increasing the chances of an accident. Because of all of these factors, punishments for a drunk driving accident in Indiana are very harsh.
Criminal Penalties are Just One Form of Punishment for Drunk Driving
As noted in the article, the off duty officer was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and causing severe injury and death. If the prosecution can prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, the officer could face severe criminal penalties, including large fines and possibly spending the rest of his life in prison. As part of the criminal case, the officer may be required to pay restitution to the surviving victims of the crash. Restitution is financial compensation to help cover the family’s loss and expenses related to the crash. Restitution can help make up for the victims’ loss, but it is not guaranteed, and if the prosecution cannot prove their case, the victims will not receive restitution.
A Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Claim
If the victims of the crash are unable to receive restitution, or even if they do receive some reimbursement for their injury and loss, they may still file an Indiana personal injury lawsuit in civil court to collect the damages that they deserve. Not only can defendants be required to pay the victims for the medical, funeral, and work related expenses, but defendants involved in an Indiana wrongful death or personal injury claim that involves drunk driving will often face additional damages to punish them for their conduct. A skilled Indiana accident attorney can help victims get what they need to become whole after a DUI related accident.
The Standard of Proof for a Civil DUI Claim
Another reason that victims of alcohol or drug related accidents should seek competent legal counsel and file a civil action against the defendant instead of hoping for criminal restitution is that the standard of proof required to win an Indiana personal injury lawsuit is less than what a prosecutor must prove to convict a defendant on criminal charges. An Indiana personal injury or wrongful death claim must only be proven “by the preponderance of the evidence,” whereas a criminal case needs to be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This means that it is much easier to win damages in civil court than it is to get restitution from a criminal conviction. Additionally, even if a defendant is acquitted of criminal charges, he or she can still be liable for substantial damages through a civil action.
Are you a Victim of an Impaired Driver?
If you or someone you know has been injured or killed by a suspected drunk driver, don’t rely solely on criminal restitution. Hire a skilled Indiana personal injury lawyer today. The dedicated advocates at Parr, Richey, Obremskey, Frandsen & Patterson fight hard to get what their clients deserve. Our attorneys represent clients in a variety of Indiana injury cases, including DUI accidents, other auto accidents, work related accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and other injury claims. Call us at 888-532-7766 to set up a free consultation with an Indiana injury attorney today. There is no cost or obligation for an initial consultation, and we can quickly let you know how strong of a case you have. You can also contact us online.
Indiana Federal Court Decision Protects Plaintiffs Injured in Auto Accidents, Indiana Accident Attorneys, March 17, 2014
Indiana Supreme Court Reverses Lower Courts’ Rulings, Allows Malpractice Suit to Continue., Indiana Accident Attorneys, April 4, 2014.