Every year thousands of people die due to drunk driving accidents in the US. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that in 2020, 11,654 people died in drunk driving accidents. About a 14% increase from 2019.
Accidents that are caused by drunk drivers often result in serious injuries and deaths. Property damages are also significant in drunk driving accidents.
If you or someone you know have been seriously injured in a drunk driving accident, you should know that you can recover significant compensation from the guilty party. An expert drunk driving car accident attorney will help you recover compensation from the guilty party.
Drunk Driving Accident: What You Should Know?
Driving under the influence with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher is illegal in most states. The BAC limit for drivers age 21 and below is 0.02 percent. Drivers who are found to be driving with BAC above the limit have to face a hefty fine and prison time.
Moreover, drunk drivers have to compensate the injured victims for the losses sustained due to the accident.
Getting Compensation if Injured in a Drunk Driving Accident
Victims of a drunk driving car accident can claim compensation for losses from the guilty driver. They can claim compensation for economic and non-economic losses sustained due to reckless driving by the drunk driver.
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Loss of earning capacity
- Injury-related expenses such as hiring a household maid, home care services, etc.
- Emotional suffering
- Physical pain
- Loss of companionship
In case of death of a victim, surviving family members can sue the drunk driver for loss of income that the deceased family member would have provided if alive. The estate of the deceased victim can also seek compensation for burial expenses, medical expenses, the suffering caused as a result of the injury before the death.
Punitive Damages: What Are They?
An experienced car accident lawyer can also help you get another category of compensation known as punitive damages. If the evidence suggests that the actions of the drunk driver were malicious and wanton, you can also get punitive damages from the defendant. The court awards punitive damages to penalize the guilty driver for gross disregard of the safety of others while driving.
Punitive damages are generally capped. For instance, Texas allows punitive damages of two times the economic damages awarded or $200,000, whichever is greater, up to a total amount of $750,000. But in some states such as North Carolina, there is no statutory limit for punitive damages if the guilty driver was drunk when driving.
Process of Recovering Damages in DUI Accidents
Victims can recover damages from drunk driving accidents by filing a claim against the at-fault driver. The claim is different than the criminal proceedings against the guilty driver for driving under the influence. The penalties and fines are separate matters that the driver has to pay to the state.
Car accident injury claims can be filed even when the case of drunk driving is under investigation. A sobriety test determines if the driver was drunk when the accident happened. However, you won’t have to wait for the outcome of the test before filing a personal injury claim.
You need to get in touch with an experienced car accident lawyer to file a claim against the drunk driver. An experienced attorney will consider different options and advise you on the best course of action to seek compensation from the guilty driver.
1. Submitting Claim with Insurance Provider
A car accident attorney will recommend you file a claim with the insurance company of the driver responsible for the accident. The attorney will try to negotiate with the insurance company to get the maximum possible payout.
State laws require all drivers to carry car accident liability insurance. The insurance company of the guilty driver will have to pay the expenses up to a certain limit. The insurance covers bodily injury and property damages sustained in a car accident.
However, insurance companies do not always accept the initial claim. The company representation may try to reduce the compensation amount claimed. It may assert that the victim was partly responsible for the accident. In this situation, your lawyer will recommend you file a lawsuit against the driver in a local court.
2. Suing the Employer
Drivers of commercial vehicles sometimes get drunk before getting behind the wheel. Drunk driving is a common problem in commercial drivers.
If the drunk driving accident involved a commercial driver, the driver of the accident as well as the employer will be held responsible for paying the damages. An experienced auto accident lawyer will carry out a detailed investigation to prove the negligence of the employer in monitoring the driver.
Employers are required to carry out pre-employment screenings for each driver. They should also carry on alcohol and drug testing at regular intervals. Employers that are negligent in testing the driver are responsible for the damages due to drunk driving.
3. Suing Social Host
Your car accident attorney can also advise you to sue the social hosts that sold alcohol to the drivers. Social hosts in many states are liable for the actions of their guests or customers. In North Carolina, dram shop laws make the social hosts that include individuals or shops serving alcohol responsible for if they serve alcohol to children under 21 years of age. They will have to compensate the victims for the losses due to negligence in serving alcohol.
Dram shop liability makes the social host responsible if the host who is a minor shows visible signs of intoxication. Your attorney will help you get additional compensation from the dram shop responsible for serving alcohol to underage kids who cause an accident.
Always contact a responsible car accident attorney to get compensation for injuries due to drunk driving accidents. You can get a free, no-obligation initial consultation from the attorney. The services of an expert drunk driving car accident lawyer will help increase the likelihood of getting maximum possible compensation from the guilty parties responsible for the accident.