Despite strict laws, Maryland continues to experience about 7,000 car crashes per year involving at least one driver’s use of alcohol or drugs, according to its most recent crash data. Victims of drunk driving crashes may be able to file a Maryland personal injury lawsuit against a drunk driver to recover financial compensation for their injuries. In a civil suit against a drunk driver, an injured party must prove that the driver was negligent and that the driver’s negligent actions caused the victim’s injuries. A victim may be able to recover compensation for medical bills, property damage, wage losses, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Evidence of a DUI arrest or conviction, or of a guilty plea to a traffic citation is useful evidence in a civil case. In Maryland, guilty pleas in court to traffic citations are generally admissible as evidence in a civil case. Even in the event that the driver does not face a criminal conviction, a civil case may still be possible. The standard in a civil case is a preponderance of the evidence. The preponderance of the evidence standard is lower than the reasonable guilt standard in criminal cases, which means that a civil case may be won even if the driver is not convicted of a crime. There may still be evidence that the driver was under the influence and contributed to the crash. Drunk drivers can face serious criminal consequences, in addition to a civil suit. Under Noah’s Law, which took effect in October 2016, an ignition interlock device must be installed for any driver convicted of driving under the influence.
In addition to suing the driver, a civil suit may be brought against other responsible parties, such as a bar that served the drunk driver or another person who allowed the driver to drive while intoxicated. In any case, the victim still has to prove that the party acted negligently and that their negligent actions contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries.