You are likely aware that, upon conviction of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (DUI) in Arizona, you can face criminal penalties including jail time, fines, and suspension of your license. However, you can also face civil liability for your actions, particularly if you cause injury to someone else. Read on for more information about DUI and personal injury.
What Is Considered DUI In Arizona?
In Arizona, an individual can be charged with DUI if they have been found to be operating a motor vehicle with:
- A blood alcohol content of .08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood. This is the legal impairment limit for adults over 21 who are operating a motor vehicle on Arizona roadways.
- An adverse effect on one’s driving ability that was caused by the impairment.
- Or a specific amount of certain controlled substances in one’s body.
Civil Liability: DUI and Personal Injury
Drivers who cause accidents that result in injuries to others while driving under the influence can be found civilly liable for the expenses and quality-of-life impacts incurred as a result of the injury. Your liability is proven by establishing the following elements in your case:
- The at-fault party owed another roadway user a duty of care. The duty of care refers to the actions that a reasonable person would have taken in similar circumstances. The duty of care that is owed by a driver to other users of the roadway would be to operate his or her motor vehicle in a safe and legal manner.
- There was a breach in the duty of care that was owed. The breach refers to the actions that the at-fault party took that were contrary to the duty of care that was owed. Operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is not safe or legal.
- The breach resulted in the accident, which caused injury to another person and resulted in expenses and quality-of-life impacts.
The Personal Injury Claims Process
Generally, if you have caused injury to another person as a result of careless or reckless behavior such as DUI, that individual has two years to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. A personal injury lawsuit is a civil claim, filed against you and your insurance provider, seeking compensation for the expenses and psychological impacts of the injury caused by your impairment. The claim is filed against your insurance provider because insurance is the means by which the vast majority of personal injury settlements and awards are paid.
A personal injury lawsuit can be filed against you after a DUI accident by anyone sustaining injuries as a result of your impaired driving, including passengers in your own car. Additionally, because the civil process of being sued for personal injury and the criminal process of being investigated for DUI are two separate cases, you can be sued while you are under investigation or even while you are serving your sentence. If you are not convicted of a DUI but there is evidence to show that the accident “more likely than not” was a result of your impairment by drugs and/ or alcohol, a lawsuit can still be filed against you.
The Damages That Can Be Recovered Through a Personal Injury Lawsuit
In the legal arena, the word “damages” refers to a payment made in compensation for harm. Arizona allows victims of DUI accidents to seek economic damages, which is compensation for the expenses of their injury, such as:
- Medical expenses, including emergency treatment, transport to the hospital, hospitalization, diagnostic and laboratory testing, physician and surgical services, prescription medication, physical therapy and rehabilitation.
- Wage loss due to the victim being too injured to work.
- Loss of future earning capacity, if your victim incurs a permanent disability as a result of his or her injuries and is no longer able to work or to earn in the same capacity as he or she was before the accident.
- Property damage, such as the cost to repair or replace the victim’s car that was damaged in the accident.
Your victim can also seek to recover non-economic damages, which is compensation for the quality-of-life impacts he or she incurred because of the accident, including:
- Physical pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life.
Contact A DUI Defense Attorney Right Away
DUI convictions are serious and have long-lasting consequences that can haunt you for the rest of your life.
If you have been arrested and charged with DUI, call a DUI attorney as soon as possible. A skilled attorney will know the best DUI defense strategies to help your particular case and protect your future.
Reach out today to schedule a free consultation.