A White Swan man is facing felony driving under the influence, or DUI, charges as a result of a serious car crash last week in Yakima, according to news reports.
According to police reports, the driver failed to yield for a red light Saturday evening while southbound on Third Street to South First Street at the Arlington Street intersection. His vehicle then ran head on into another vehicle that was heading northbound on First Street. The driver of the vehicle that was struck received only minor injuries, but a passenger was critically injured. The driver of the at-fault vehicle was booked into the Yakima County Jail last Monday on initial charges of vehicular assault and driving under the influence of alcohol.
What makes this story worse is that the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident has been convicted of driving under the influence four times over the last 10 years. He was also supposed to be using a court-ordered ignition interlock device on his vehicle but was not at the time of the accident. An ignition interlock device, or IID, is a device that is attached to the vehicle of a person who has been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol and is intended to prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. Had the device been in place as ordered by the court, the collision may never have happened.
Driving Under the Influence Injuries
When a victim is injured as a result of a driver who has been driving under the influence, there are two separate legal issues that follow. The driver may be charged with a criminal offense for driving under the influence, as was the case in the collision last week in Yakima. A criminal prosecution, however, does not address the financial and emotional impact the collision had on the victims. A criminal prosecution will potentially send the driver to jail,but that does not help the victims pay medical bills or compensate the victims for the pain and suffering caused by the driver’s negligence. In order for a victim to receive compensation for things like medical bills, lost wages or the emotional impact of the accident, he or she will need to pursue a civil personal injury accident lawsuit.
Unlike a criminal prosecution, a civil lawsuit does not have to prove that the driver was actually driving under the influence of alcohol. A civil lawsuit simply requires that the victim prove that the defendant was negligent. In addition, the burdens of proof are different. In a criminal prosecution, the burden is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” whereas in a civil lawsuit the burden is “a preponderance of the evidence.” In essence, this makes it a bit easier for the victim of a drunk driving accident to prove his or her case than it is for the prosecution to convict the driver of drunk driving. Of course, if the driver is ultimately convicted for driving under the influence in a criminal prosecution, that will do nothing but help the civil personal injury lawsuit.
What You Should Do If You Are Injured In A Drunk Driving Accident
If you have been the victim of a Washington drunk driving accident, don’t wait to find out what happens in the criminal case if charges were filed against the driver. More importantly, don’t count on the criminal prosecution to provide you with the financial compensation that you may be entitled to as a result of your injuries. You should consult with an experienced Yakima car accident attorney as soon as possible to determine what legal option you have.
The accident attorneys at The Mariano Morales Jr. Law Firm can help. Contact our Yakima lawyers today by calling 509-457-1948 or by using our online contact form for your free initial consultation.