Yes, in most cases, yes, the passenger will have a personal injury claim against the drunk driver. It is also possible that the injured person will have claims against others, including a bar or restaurant that served the alcohol to the driver before the rollover.
For example, two friends travel together to a bar and consume alcoholic beverages. If one of them gets behind the wheel to take the other home and crashes on the way, the friend that was the passenger has claims against both the driver and the bar.
If the one riding along did not survive, his or her family may have a wrongful death claim.
Does There Have to Be a Criminal Conviction for Me to Win My Case?
No, the impaired driver does not need to have a DUI conviction for you to win your case, but a conviction can make it easier to win.
In Minnesota, if someone violates the state criminal laws by driving while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol (referred to as drunk driving, DUI and DWI), it is prima facia evidence of negligence in a civil case—a rollover accident case for damages (compensation). This does not mean that someone who is injured by an intoxicated driver will automatically win a lawsuit, but it does mean that the person suing has a good case. If the driver has not been charged or convicted of drunk driving, the injured person may still have a claim under civil law and be able to seek monetary damages. Evidence of the intoxication will have to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. A good rollover accident lawyer will be able to present a case successfully whether there is a criminal conviction or not.
Impairment can result from any blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above .00. Even a small amount of alcohol will negatively affect your judgment, muscular coordination, and vision, making you more likely to lose control of your vehicle. This is important legally for issues such as fault and amount of compensation.
In a civil action against an intoxicated driver, the injured party can ask for punitive damages, which, depending on the circumstances, can be significant. For example, our lawyers won $6,000,000.00 on behalf of a 26 year-old female passenger whose right leg was traumatically amputated when the motorcycle on which she was a passenger was struck by a drunk driver. Evidence of past criminal convictions for drunk driving or criminal vehicular homicide or injury is admissible into evidence in many states. Generally, if there are past criminal convictions for either DUI or vehicular homicide, it is more likely that punitive damages will be awarded in the rollover accident lawsuit.