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In a DUI crash lawsuit, victim compensation can be based on a number of different factors.
For example, 23-year-old Cole Jolley of Texas has been struggling his entire life to recover from a brain injury he suffered as an infant when his family's car was hit by a drunken driver, as Dallas' WFAA-TV recently reported.
The possibility of a lifetime handicap is just one of many factors courts will use to balance compensation for DUI crash victims. Here are five of the most common factors:
1. The DUI Driver's Degree of Fault.
When a drunken driver is convicted of DUI arising from the events of a crash, most civil courts will accept the criminal conviction as adequate proof -- negligence per se -- that the driver was negligent in the crash.
A finding of negligence isn't the end of the story for victims seeking damages, however. In states that allow comparative negligence defenses, a victim's recovery from a DUI crash may be reduced by the percentage of fault that a judge or jury attributes to the victim.
2. Long-Term Medical Care.
For victims with disabilities or chronic injuries like Jolley, medical bills -- both past and future -- may be enormous.
If a drunken driver in a crash is found to be responsible for injuries that require long-term medical care, victims may be entitled to an award of damages that includes these medical costs.
3. Dram Shop Laws.
Many states have dram shop laws that hold establishments accountable for overserving drunken drivers who then get into a crash. This can certainly increase the chance of victims recovering from DUI-related crash injuries, as restaurants, bars, and even strip clubs have been known to pay for these damages.
4. Wrongful Death.
DUI accidents often lead to fatalities, and the compensation for victims and their families greatly increases when a DUI crash lawsuit includes an allegation of wrongful death.
Victims can expect a larger award of damages if the DUI crash caused the death of a loved one -- especially if the deceased was the primary wage earner.
5. Injuries That Prevent Work.
Any crash can lead to physical and mental injuries that may drastically diminish or even eliminate a victim's ability to work or earn a living wage.
The more that these injuries affect earning capacity or cause a victim to miss out on his or her current job, the more compensation will be available.
Regardless of the severity of the injuries or assumed fault of the parties, those involved in a DUI-related crash should consult with an experienced car accident attorney to discuss options for recovery.