When our Chicago car accident lawyers first meet with a new client, we usually ask them to tell us their story. We can’t help a client pursue damages unless we know what happened to them. Some of these clients tell us that their case is a slam dunk simply because the other driver was arrested for DUI at the time of the accident. However, even if that’s the case, your Chicago car accident lawyer will still have to prove your case.
It’s never enough to just prove that you were involved in a collision. You also have to prove that the defendant caused the accident and that they caused you serious injuries. We offer all new clients a free, initial consultation. This gives you a chance to see if your case is even valid before you get your hopes up.
Every Plaintiff in a Car Accident Lawsuit Must Prove Negligence
It doesn’t matter how blatantly obvious it is that the other driver caused your accident. Your Chicago car accident lawyer still has to prove negligence. Even if the police watched the accident unfold, you need to legally prove that the defendant was responsible. To prove negligence in any personal injury case, you must demonstrate the following four things:
- First, your Chicago car accident lawyer must prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care. This isn’t all that difficult to do in a motor vehicle accident case. All drivers owe a certain duty of care to other motorists. For example, you have to follow all the local traffic laws. You also have to use common sense.
- Second, you must prove that the other driver somehow violated their duty. One way to do this is by submitting proof that they were issued a citation at the accident scene. For example, if the defendant was arrested and charged with DUI, your attorney can use that as evidence of fault on the part of the other driver. Your Chicago car accident lawyer will submit proof of their arrest and conviction to solidify your case.
- Third, you will have to demonstrate that you suffered some sort of injury. This can be a physical injury or a financial one. However, in most cases where the only loss was financial, the insurance company is usually willing to settle. They usually don’t want to spend thousands of dollars defending a client if they don’t have to. They certainly wouldn’t want to waste that kind of money on a moderately priced mechanic’s bill.
- The last element your lawyer must prove is that your injuries were caused by the defendant’s actions. As long as you don’t wait too long to go to the hospital, this shouldn’t be all that difficult. If, however, you do wait days or weeks to seek medical treatment, the defendant’s attorney will argue that something other than the crash caused your injuries.
Once your Chicago car accident lawyer proves negligence, they will move on to prove your damages.
Your Chicago Car Accident Lawyer May Even Be Able to Demand Punitive Damages
If you can prove that the defendant was drunk at the time of your car accident, you may be entitled to punitive damages. The courts reserve punitive damages for cases where they want to send a message to the defendant. They also use this type of penalty as a way to warn other drivers about the consequences of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If your Chicago car accident lawyer can prove that the other driver was both arrested and convicted of DUI, it will go a long way toward proving your case. If your lawyer can also prove that you were seriously injured, they may be able to convince the judge to award you punitive damages. Just keep in mind that more than 95% of all car accident lawsuits settle out of court. If this is the case, you will more than likely not receive anything in the way of punitive damages.
It Makes a Big Difference if the Defendant Was Acquitted of DUI
As mentioned above, your Chicago car accident lawyer has to prove that the defendant was actually convicted of DUI. It isn’t enough to show that they were arrested for drunk driving. If the defendant is acquitted, then, legally, they didn’t do anything wrong. Your attorney won’t be able to use their arrest to prove liability or to prove damages.
Unless you can prove that they were found guilty, it will be a lot harder to win your case. We suggest that you treat the case like the defendant wasn’t arrested for DUI. That way, their arrest can serve as the cherry on top when it comes to damages.
Reach Out to an Experienced Chicago Accident Attorney Before You Rush Into Anything
We always suggest that any car accident victim talk to a seasoned Chicago accident attorney before they make any final decisions. Some accident victims choose to walk away after their insurance claim is denied. Either they don’t believe the other party was at fault, or they’re afraid it will cost too much money to hire a Chicago car accident lawyer.
If you aren’t confident that the defendant caused the crash, it’s still worth talking to an attorney. You may be selling yourself short. If you are afraid you can’t afford a Chicago accident attorney, think again. Our attorneys don’t charge our clients anything upfront. In fact, we offer all new clients a free, initial consultation. All you have to do is call our office and set up a date and time that works for you.