All Questions

February 2, 2022 | Gary Burger

Can I File a Lawsuit After a Drunk Driver Was Found Not Guilty?

Can I File a Lawsuit After a Drunk Driver Was Found Not Guilty? Drunk driving is an incredibly dangerous and reckless act, and luckily there are severe punishments for drunk driving, especially when it causes an accident and results in personal injury. You may be aware that you can sue drunk drivers to make sure you are fully compensated for your damages, but may be left confused when they are surprisingly found not guilty in their criminal trial. Can you still file a lawsuit after a drunk driver was found not guilty? The answer is yes. However, you will still need the help of the experienced and knowledgeable drunk driving accident attorneys at Burger Law to ensure you receive maximum compensation. Call us today at (314) 500-HURT or contact us online for a free case review.

Why A Drunk Driver Can Be Found Not Guilty

It might seem pretty straight forward that somebody who the police arrested for drunk driving would be found guilty. Didn't they do a breathalyzer test? Isn't there a police report saying the driver was slurring his words? The answer is most likely yes, but there are several methods people can use to beat a DWI charge:

  • Point our errors in the police report
  • Successfully prove the breathalyzer test was inaccurate
  • Demonstrate that the field sobriety test was done inaccurately
  • Plead down to a lesser charge, such as reckless driving

In the event that the driver who caused your injuries is found not guilty in their criminal case, their insurance company may try to convince you that that means they cannot be found liable in a civil case. That is not true, and that is why you need the experienced and talented Chicago and St. Louis-based drunk driving accident lawyers at Burger Law. We know all the tricks insurance companies use to avoid paying you what you are owed. Regardless of whether or not the driver was found guilty of drunk driving in criminal court, Burger Law will make sure you get the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Drunk Driving: Criminal Cases Vs. Civil Cases

Criminal cases and civil claims are different in a lot of ways. A civil case does not require a criminal conviction to be successful as they have many distinct elements.

Burden of Proof

In any criminal case, the prosecution must prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the defendant was driving drunk. If the defendant and their lawyer are able to convince a judge or jury that there is good reason to doubt the charge, the defendant will be found not guilty. In a criminal case, the jury must unanimously decide on a guilty verdict in order for the defendant to be found guilty.

In a civil case, a plaintiff only needs to show a "preponderance of evidence", meaning you only have to demonstrate that the defendant was more likely than not to be drunk. Additionally, in a jury trial only three-fourths of the jury needs to deliver a guilty verdict. This means that the burden of proof is much lower in civil cases.

Who Brings The Suit

In a criminal case, the state brings the suit against the defendant in an effort to punish and deter the behavior, and evidence is gathered by police and state investigators. In a civil case, the suit is brought by an individual, in this case you, in order to receive financial compensation for your damages. While police reports can be incredibly useful pieces of evidence, you will need an experienced and knowledgeable drunk driving accident attorney to gather further evidence to help prove your case. Because the burden of proof is lower, mistakes in police work will not doom your civil case as it might a criminal case.

The Result

Criminal cases, if a guilty verdict is found, result in punishments such as fees, community service, probation, counseling, or jail time. While we often do seek punitive damages in a civil case, especially because they encourage a fair settlement, the main motivation in civil cases is to get you the financial recovery you deserve. With the talented drunk driving accident lawyers at Burger Law, we will help you get maximum compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Medical treatments and medications
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning potential
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish

Why You Need to Make a Claim in Civil Court After a Drunk Driving Accident

Whether or not the drunk driver was found not guilty, or even if their criminal case is still pending, it is still important to make a claim against them in civil court to ensure you receive maximum compensation. After a guilty verdict in criminal court, the drunk driver may be ordered to pay you for your damages, but they may or may not have the money and there is no guarantee that they will cover all of your damages. The skilled and seasoned Missouri and Illinois drunk driving lawyers at Burger Law will ensure that you are compensated for all the damages you are owed after you have been injured by a drunk driver. While a criminal conviction will certainly help your civil case - and usually encourage a quick and fair settlement offer from the insurance company - the final verdict in the criminal case is not a deciding factor. Call Burger Law today at (314) 500-HURT or contact us online for a free case evaluation.