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How is victim compensation determined in a DUI accident claim?

Plaintiffs must provide proof to civil courts that compensation for accident injuries and deaths is warranted. The defendant's share of fault significantly influences damages, particularly in states like Illinois where comparative negligence laws apply.

An Illinois claim is valid only when the plaintiff's share of the blame is below 50 percent, according to the state Department of Insurance. Let's say a defendant's fault percentage is found to be 90 percent. The plaintiff has the right to make a claim, but the 10 percent of fault assigned to the plaintiff could come off a damage total, since the defendant was not entirely to blame for the motor vehicle accident.

The negligence of drunk drivers in civil claims typically is proven by a defendant's criminal conviction. However, with the way state rules for personal injury and wrongful death are set up, it is necessary to show how careless or reckless the drunk driver was compared to the plaintiff before levels of fault are established. In addition, the impaired driver may not be the only defendant in a DUI accident claim.

The Illinois Dramshop Act allows parties injured in drunk-driving crashes to file liability claims against alcohol sellers. These are third-party defendants who by serving or selling a patron alcohol may have played an indirect but influential role in the injuries or death of a crash victim.

A court considers the severity of the victim's injuries and the impact of a fatality upon immediate family members. A permanent disability may require expensive long-term medical care and prevent a victim from ever working again. Damages for wage losses are likely to go higher if the disabled or deceased victim was the family's main source of income.

A DUI accident attorney can assess a claim to determine its validity and potential in recovering damages for injured parties and surviving family members. Lawyers also help identify all possible compensation sources, like third-party defendants.

Source: FindLaw, "DUI Crashes: 5 Factors for Victim Compensation," Brett Snider, accessed May. 29, 2015

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