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Getting justice for a DUI goes beyond the criminal justice system

When tragedies occur to Tennessee residents, many individuals want nothing more than for justice to be done to hold those responsible for the incident. However, justice can mean many different things to different people, particularly when it comes to justice in the legal system.

Typically, when the term "justice" comes up in the legal system, it is mentioned in relation to the criminal justice system. For instance, after a drunk driving accident, the State may bring charges against the drunk driver and impose criminal punishment on the person for his or her role in the accident. Under Tennessee law, a first-time offender can receive up to 11 months in jail on a basic DUI charge, along with a one-year revocation of their driver's license and other fines and conditions.

However, while criminal cases can bring some closure to a victim of a drunk driving accident, there often remain other issues that are left unresolved by the criminal case. Namely, the victim and his or her family may have sustained a great deal of loss as a result of the accident, and while restitution can be awarded in the criminal case to order the guilty person to pay money to the victim, even this might not be enough to fully compensate the victim for all of the damages he or she has suffered.

Under these circumstances, a personal injury lawsuit may be an appropriate course of action for the victim to get the justice he or she deserves. The personal injury lawsuit is a civil case, which differs from the criminal case in terms of the parties and burden of proof involved, among other things.

After proving the drunk driver was negligent in causing the accident, the victim can then be awarded damages for a variety of things, including medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering from the crash. By pursuing the civil suit and holding the drunk driver accountable, victims can get the justice they deserve, along with the much needed financial help they need.

Source: Department of Safety and Homeland Security, "DUI offenses," accessed on Jan. 4, 2015

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