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The Bottom Line:

If you have filed a personal injury lawsuit against another person who injured you in some type of accident, that person has had a civil lawsuit filed against them. This matter is separate from any criminal charges the person might face.

For example:

if a drunk driver hits you while you are walking through a crosswalk, he could face a criminal charge for injuring you and for drunk driving. He will be fined by the court as well as DMV. District Attorney might ask for the drunk driver to go to jail on these charges if convicted.

In addition, you also can file a personal injury lawsuit against him. If you win your case, the drunk driver’s car insurance company could also be ordered to pay for your personal injury damages. Those can include:

  • all related medical costs,
  • lost and future wages,
  • rehabilitation,
  • pain and suffering,
  • property damage,
  • and more.

If the drunk driver had a car insurance policy, the insurance company will most likely cover your personal injury damages. However, some people either do not have insurance, or they only have minimal state coverage.

Drunk Driver Arrested By Police in Oregon
Drunk Driver Caused an Accident Oregon

What This Means To Injured Person:

If the driver has only $25,000 of coverage for injuries for other people in an accident, your personal injury attorney might involve your own insurance coverage. This is called Uninsured/Underinsured protection you have been paying high premiums for.

What If There Is Not Enough Money:

If there is still not enough money to cover your injuries and damages, the drunk driver may have to pay out of pocket. If the defendant does not have the money, it is possible to garnish his wages or levy his bank accounts for the money. But doing that would require additional legal steps on your part that are beyond the scope of a personal injury settlement or verdict.

What Else Can Happen:

Depending upon the case and the attorneys involved, the defendant may either agree to a settlement or can take the case to trial. Many insurance companies prefer to settle personal injury claims out of court because they usually pay less than if the case goes to trial and they lose. This is especially true in drunk driving cases; few insurance companies want to risk a jury verdict on a drunk driving case as few Americans have sympathy for drunk drivers.

But in the end, it is up to the defendant and his insurance company about whether to settle or go to trial in your personal injury case.

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