While most lawsuits after a drunk driving accident involve a victim in another vehicle suing the driver who caused the accident, it is also possible to bring a case as a passenger in the same vehicle as the driver at fault.
An incident in Tampa involved a woman who was arrested for driving under the influence and causing the death of her baby granddaughter.
Grandmother drives into guard rail near Interstate 4 while intoxicated
The Florida Highway Patrol reported that the suspect was intoxicated while she was trying to enter Interstate 4 West from Mango Road in a Nissan Altima. At some point while trying to get onto the highway, she lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a guard rail. Her 10 month old granddaughter was in her lap at the time of the crash, and the child sustained serious injuries. The baby died several days later at Tampa General Hospital, where the suspect was also staying. The woman had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.225 while she was driving, which is about triple the legal limit. She was charged with DUI manslaughter, violation of the child restraint law, and aggravated manslaughter of a child.
Lawsuits against the driver of your car
When a passenger is injured by their driver’s actions, the structure of a civil negligence lawsuit against is them the same as a case where they were injured by another driver. The attorney’s initial pleadings will have to allege that their driver was responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries, rather than anyone else. The driver will be named as the defendant, and the passenger can attempt to make them pay for medical bills, hospitalization, lost wages, and even funeral expenses after a deadly crash.
What about the criminal charges?
When suing a drunk driver in civil court, the case can proceed regardless of the disposition of the criminal case. This means that even if the defendant is acquitted or the charges are dropped, a separate civil case can still proceed. This is because there are separate court systems with different burdens of proof, and intoxication does not necessarily prove the ultimate issues regarding fault and damages in the civil lawsuit.
It is possible to sue a family member?
In this case, the parents of the deceased child may file a wrongful death action against the child’s grandmother. This may seem like an odd situation, but it is possible to name a family member as a defendant in a lawsuit and the case will proceed as normal. Despite the prospect of financial gain, many people will usually prefer not to sue a family member due to the possibility of it destroying relationships and creating other long term problems. There is also the option of attempting to settle the matter personally within the family rather than going through the formal legal process. The people affected by the family member’s actions should consider all of these options and speak to a lawyer before attempting to file a case against a relative.
Get help from an accident attorney in your area
If you want to file a lawsuit against a drunk driver, there is local help available. Larson Johnson Trial Attorneys focus on helping people who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents in the Tampa area.