Anyone who get injuries by another person’s wrongdoing probably knows that they have the ability to file a civil claim for recovering damages in court against the person who harmed them. What often happens, however, is that once they decide to seek legal help, they soon realize that the legal process can take a very long time. As a wise person once said: “Time is money”—and this phrase has never been truer than when attorneys are involved.
While an attorney can help a car accident victim obtain the maximum amount owed to them under the law by the wrongdoer, what many people may not realize is that the wrongdoer (or their insurance company) will likely also hire an attorney. It is part of the adversarial process for attorneys to be involved on both sides, and they have a duty to represent their clients’ interests throughout the legal process. However, this often means that the litigation process can be stretched out as far as days, weeks, and even months from the date of harm to final resolution of the case. One option that is available to someone who has been injured by a drunk driver, however, is recovering damages through the criminal process rather than through civil litigation.
In Arizona, victims of drunk drivers can recover their damages in the form of restitution payments from the drunk driver. The process to recovery is not automatic, but in some cases, the outcome can mean well-deserved relief to victims covering a wide variety of losses. Courts across the country have authorized restitution against a drunk driver to cover losses due to medical expenses, lost wages, counseling expenses, property damage, and funeral expenses. The Arizona Court of Appeals has interpreted its state statute to allow a victim’s family to recover for wages that were lost due to any caretaking duties that the drunk driver caused due to the accident.
In order to recover restitution, it is advised that a victim make their request known as soon as practicable so that the court has all the information needed to make a decision during the drunk driver’s sentencing. Once a court has ordered a drunk driver to pay restitution, the money owed to the victim will generally pay to the court clerk’s office and then be distributed to the victim. Courts typically view restitution payments as an important part of the process and so will sometimes allow online payments to help victims obtain their money faster.
While some attorneys work hard to extend the legal process and drive the costs of litigation to new heights, the attorneys at the Thompson Law Firm, PLLC strive to help clients through the legal process. If someone who chose to drink and drive injures you, our professionals can talk with you about the options available. We understand Arizona’s laws and see it as our duty to make them work on behalf of our clients so that they can focus on more important matters.