The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that there were 10,076 people killed in drunk driving accidents in 2013 alone. That means that someone lost their life because of a drunk driver every 53 minutes.
Many drunk driving accidents do not result in deaths; they result in serious, life-altering injuries. If you were hit by a drunk driver, you have legal options, and you should contact a car accident attorney as soon as practical after your accident.
Civil and Criminal Liability for Drunk Driving
Driving drunk is illegal, and a drunk driver can be criminally charged for driving while intoxicated. In addition, if the driver causes property damage or injuries, he or she may be civilly liable to whoever suffered damages.
When you sue someone for damages related to drunk driving, it is a separate civil case. You have to assert a separate case in order to receive damages; you will not be awarded compensation from the criminal case.
Dealing with an Insurance Company After Being Hit by a Drunk Driver
Insurance companies know that they have a poor legal case when their insured causes damages because he or she was driving while intoxicated. As such, the insurance company will likely contact you shortly after the accident to offer you a small settlement to close out the case. This resolves the claim quickly, often before you fully understand the extent of your damages and what your case is worth.
It is a good idea to speak with a car accident attorney before talking to an insurance company. An experienced attorney will be able to let you know what your claim is worth and help you estimate potential future damages, including medical expenses and lost wages. Sometimes, you need extra time to determine how your accident will affect you in the long run. Settling quickly may not provide you enough funds for the future.
Other Potential Parties in a Drunk Driver Case
Other parties besides the driver and his or her insurance company may be involved in a drunk driving case. In fact, the driver may not be the actual liable party. If the driver was over-served at a bar or restaurant, for example, that establishment may be partly at fault as well.
Laws that create this type of liability are commonly referred to you as “dram shop” laws. New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts all have dram shop laws that you may be able to assert in your claim. Some of the same laws may also apply to individual hosts as well.
When a drunk driver does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance, your claim may not go very far. However, if you have uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist insurance coverage, you may be able to bring a claim with your own insurance company.
You have several legal options after suffering through an accident with a drunk driver. A car accident attorney can help you assert a claim against the right party, for the right amount of damages. Call 888-518-5479 to get more information about drunk driver claims.