On a late February Friday night, a drunk-driving suspect tragically rear ended a car containing three young women on I-25 near San Felipe Pueblo. The young women were on their way from Colorado to Arizona. According to KRQE News 13, the driver allegedly was driving with three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system, and may have been driving as fast as 100 mph.
One of the women died and the other two sustained critical injuries, including a head injury. In this case, the driver reportedly faces several New Mexico criminal charges, including homicide by vehicle.
Criminal versus civil liability
Some people do not understand that when a person is harmed in a car crash involving a drunk driver, while the drunk driver may be convicted of a crime in the incident, the victim may also file a civil personal injury lawsuit for money damages for the harm caused. If a victim passes away, the surviving loved ones may file a wrongful death suit.
The criminal case is brought by the state and a criminal conviction will result in penalties like jail time, fines, restitution and similar sanctions. When a drunk driver is convicted of a crime in connection with a motor vehicle accident, that conviction is important evidence in a civil suit arising out of the same collision.
Seek legal advice as early as possible after an accident.
Talking to an attorney soon after a vehicle collision is important. The lawyer can conduct an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the accident, which can be quite extensive and complex, while the scene is fresh and memories are clear.
It is also crucial both for health and for legal reasons to undergo complete and extensive medical evaluation. The attorney will then be able to fight for adequate money damages in the lawsuit. For example, in addition to the initial medical expenses, a serious brain injury or another equally severe injury may require long-term rehabilitation and care, costs that can be astronomically expensive. In addition, the victim may not be able to work again so a claim for lost wages should be made. There may also be a valid claim for pain and suffering damages.
Be sure to consult a lawyer should you or a loved one be harmed in a motor vehicle accident to understand potential legal remedies.