Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is one of the most dangerous and reckless decisions that a driver can make. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has estimated that at least 30 people are killed every day in drunk driving accidents, adding up to at least 10,000 lives lost every year. That means over a third of all traffic crash fatalities nationwide involve a drunk driver.
When you’ve lost a loved one or sustained catastrophic injuries because of drunk driving, it’s easy to feel alone and overwhelmed. At Davis Levin Livingston, our Hawaii drunk driving accident attorneys will stand by your side and provide the thorough legal representation that you deserve after a traumatic DUI crash. With over 40 years spent serving the Hawaiian islands in a range of personal injury cases, our award-winning legal team has the resources and experience to fight for fair compensation.
Criminal vs. Civil DUI Cases
Although it’s illegal to drink and drive throughout the United States, this negligent driver behavior remains one of the top causes of motor vehicle accidents. In Hawaii, individuals who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs can face criminal charges – and when offenders are convicted of a DUI or OVUII (operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant), they may be sentenced to license suspension, fines, and even jail time.
Even if prosecutors do decide to bring charges against the drunk driver who caused your crash, however, you will not be able to receive compensation to cover your medical expenses and other needs through the criminal justice system. By holding the negligent driver accountable in a civil court proceeding, you can seek “damages” to account for your losses and secure peace of mind for your future.
In a civil DUI case, you can sue the drunk driver for the following:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages from time off work
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Long-term medical care
- Physical pain and suffering
- Lost earning capacity
Can I Seek Punitive Damages from a Drunk Driver?
Unlike standard compensatory damages that account for your losses, “punitive damages” are intended to punish the defendant and make an example of exceptionally bad behavior. Although most cases of driver negligence are not severe enough to warrant an award of punitive damages, victims of drunk drivers may be eligible to seek this form of compensation, as drunk driving can be considered “gross negligence.” However, you will need to review your case with a qualified Hawaii drunk driving accident attorney.
Are Other Parties Liable for Drunk Driving?
Under Hawaii’s dram shop liability laws, there could be other liable parties aside from the driver involved in your drunk driving crash. In Ono v. Applegate, it was established that injury victims can sue liquor vendors, restaurants, and even party hosts that continue to serve alcohol when the buyer is clearly intoxicated, under the age of 21, or consuming the alcohol in a motor vehicle.