At Roadrunner Law Firm, we see firsthand the devastating effects drunk driving has on our community. Drunk and impaired driving is a problem of epidemic proportions in New Mexico. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), last year 118 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in New Mexico. Of the fatal traffic accidents in our state last year, 29% of those involved drunk and impaired drivers. That means that 29% of the car crash fatalities in our state last year were completely preventable. 118 people should be alive right now but are not due to the reckless acts of a drunk who got behind the wheel.
There are no excuses in this day and age to get behind the wheel when you have had anything to drink. Uber and Lyft are inexpensive, easily-available options even for those people who don’t like to call cabs from the bar. Most bars will help you call a ride home. Roadrunner Law Firm is helping to lead the charge to take away the excuses by providing free Uber codes from sporting events like the New Mexico United soccer games in our city.
1. Know The Two Legal Systems: Civil and Criminal
Even with all of the efforts to reduce drunk driving, and all of the resources available to help drunks make good decisions, drunk and impaired driving still happens. So it’s important to know what your rights are in the legal system if you’ve been the victim of a drunk driver.
The Civil System –
Understand that the criminal and civil systems are separate. Roadrunner Law Firm is a civil personal injury firm, which means we are focused on helping you get monetary compensation for your damages. In other words, we are looking to maximize the amount of money we put in your pocket for a number of damages you may have. The list of potential damages is:
- medical bills
- future medical bills
- lost wages
- pain and suffering
- loss of enjoyment of life
- punitive damages (see below)
That money usually comes from insurance coverage, and the experienced lawyers at Roadrunner Law Firm know exactly how to analyze all of the available insurance policies to maximize your recovery. New Mexico has very favorable insurance laws that help compensate the victims of drunk driving crashes; however, insurance companies will never advertise these laws to injured victims. Drunk driving victims are also entitled to a special kind of damages known as “punitive damages”. It is in your best interest to hire an attorney in these types of crashes because you need an expert in personal injury cases to fight for these damages for you. Sometimes, you can handle a simple car crash case on your own, but not a drunk driving case! You absolutely need a lawyer when you’ve been hurt by a drunk driver because you want to be sure every possible argument is made on your behalf.
The Criminal System-
The criminal justice system is to punish the drunk driver with criminal penalties. That case is taken over by the District Attorneys Office in your particular jurisdiction. The police and district attorney make the decision to pursue criminal penalties based on the evidence they gather at the time of the crash. Roadrunner Law can certainly help guide you through the criminal hearings and appear with you at those Court appearances and meetings. However, we cannot punish the drunk driver nor do we have the ultimate power to pursue criminal charges. For example, Roadrunner is currently helping a client gather information and write victim impact statements to share with the Judge at a criminal sentencing hearing. But we cannot make arguments or appear as counsel at those hearings.
2. Punitive Damages are Special
It is important to understand that in New Mexico, you may be entitled to damages above and beyond the usual medical bills and pain and suffering if you have been hurt by a drunk driver. You could be entitled to claim punitive damages. This kind of legal damage exists to punish the wrongdoer with a monetary penalty. However, this is not like a criminal fine, which goes into a governmental fund. Instead, an award of punitive damages goes directly to the injured person to compensate them for their losses. Interestingly, in New Mexico, the laws regarding how punitive damages are calculated and paid are very favorable to plaintiffs (injured people who bring claims or lawsuits). There may be more than one available source of money to pay punitive damages when a drunk driver is involved in a civil claim. Roadrunner Law Firm will analyze the facts of your case to determine which sources of money apply to you.
Roadrunner Law Firm has unfortunately handled many drunk driving cases, most with horrible and tragic outcomes. We have obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars on behalf of our clients who have been injured by drunk drivers. If you have been hurt in a crash with a drunk driver, call us today and let us protect your rights and maximize your compensation.
3. Roadrunner Law Results
- $60,000.00 to victim of drunk driver with whiplash injury
- $50,000.00 in punitive damages on a pickup truck totaled by drunk driver
- $400,000.00 to drunk driving victim with knee surgery
- Full insurance policy limits on a drunk driving wrongful death claim (disputed coverage)