Have you or a loved one been involved in an auto accident that you believe may have been caused by a drunk driver? Countless families are forced to go through this ordeal every year.
During this difficult time, there are certain steps you should consider taking in order to ensure that you’re able to get the full support you need and deserve following your pain and suffering.
Call us to be connected to experienced “hit by drunk driver” lawyers today for a free consultation.
These local lawyers will assess your legal options and answer any questions, like:
Your response after being struck by a drunk driver can determine what your recovery period will look like. In many cases, those who have been injured by drunk drivers (and the families of fatal drunk driving accident victims) may be entitled to financial compensation for damages.
Taking the right steps in the aftermath of the crash can help ensure that the victims of a drunk driving accident are able to recover the full financial compensation to which they are entitled.
The answer depends on the state where it occurred. This is because each state has specific liquor liability laws known as dram laws.
The general answer is there is likely a way to cover your medical expenses via an insurance drunk driver settlement. However, contact a local drunk driving injury attorney for a more accurate answer specific to your situation.
In this situation, you may have an insurance claim against the at-fault drunk driver’s insurance policy. Depending on the facts, you may also have a third-party claim against the bar or restaurant that over-served the individual and then allowed them to drive home. It is best to have a local attorney review your facts to apply the correct law and lay out your options.
If the case is proven to satisfy the requirements of the insurance policy, then yes, the drunk driver's insurance company will likely agree to settle with you.
Nevertheless, we do recommend you retain an experienced dram shop accident lawyer to assist you in the process. Insurance companies will try many tricks to pay out less than you deserve; an experienced attorney knows this and will fight to get you more than just an average settlement.
The settlement or compensation amounts vary greatly depending on the circumstances of the case. In general, recoveries will include amounts for pain and suffering, punitive damages, lost wages, loss of enjoyment of life, funeral expenses, loss of future income, among many others.
A dram shop claim is particularly complex and we highly recommend you consult with an attorney who has handled such cases in the past. Claims need the correct investigation, resources and experience to obtain favorable results.
While the individual will always have some culpability, there are often cases where a third party shares the blame. For example, we have seen cases where a bar or restaurant continued to serve the intoxicated individual to the point where they were responsible for that individual getting into that condition and their omissions are a proximate cause of the injuries sustained.
If you or someone close to you was recently injured or killed in a DUI auto accident, here are ten steps to consider:
Looking out for your own health should be the top priority following injuries caused by a drunk driver. Emergency medical personnel should be called to the scene as soon as possible so that any injuries can be attended to before the condition of those injured becomes worse.
Even if you don’t think you were injured too badly, it’s still important to seek medical attention. The severity of injuries suffered in a car accident is not always immediately apparent. It’s fairly common for car accident injuries to only begin showing their most severe symptoms in the days or weeks following the crash.
Prompt medical attention can help find potential injuries and reduce the severity of the damage before chronic pain and other conditions develop. Additionally, it’s wise to begin documenting your injuries as soon as possible in order to ensure that you recover the maximum compensation you need and deserve.
When you visit a health professional, they will automatically create a file in your name. In it, they will record initial observations regarding your health condition soon after being in the drunk driving accident. This information, since it is deemed official, can hold a lot of weight when it comes time to settle.
When you call 911 for medical attention, police officers will most likely respond to the scene as well. This step is key for a number of reasons.
First, it’s important to document the accident as you will need this information when you file an insurance claim or a lawsuit against the other driver’s insurance company.
Additionally, if the driver was under the influence of alcohol, it’s important that they face criminal penalties for their actions. Inebriated drivers endanger everyone who crosses their path on the roads. They must be held accountable for endangering the public with their reckless decision to get behind the wheel while intoxicated.
The police will determine if the driver was indeed intoxicated and will compile an official report detailing the circumstances of the crash. If you’re able to, we advise giving them as much detail as possible about the events leading up to the crash, such as erratic driving which made you suspect that the driver was drunk.
We advise asking the responding officers for their names so that you can follow up with them later. These officers may be valuable witnesses in a civil lawsuit against the impaired driver or a negligent third party, such as an alcohol vendor.
Did anyone else see the crash happen? If so, it’s important to gather names and contact information from those individuals. If you end up filing a personal injury or dram shop lawsuit, these witnesses can help you prove the guilt of the other driver in a civil courtroom.
We also advise asking the police for the contact and insurance information from the driver who caused the crash.
If you were badly injured, it may not be possible to look for nearby cameras following the crash. But in the days following the crash, we recommend having a family member return to the scene to see if there were any cameras in the area that may have captured the crash on video. You can also contact the police to see if they already took this step themselves and have reviewed the footage.
If possible, take your own photos and videos of the scene – including the damage done to both vehicles and your injuries. These photos and footage can be analyzed by experts and used in court should you end up filing a lawsuit that goes to trial. They can also be used as evidence when negotiating the settlement for drunk driving.
When the time comes to file a lawsuit and insurance claim against intoxicated drivers for an injury, the more information the better.
Try to note everything that you can remember about the crash, including how the other driver was driving and what led to the accident. It is best to do this as soon as you possibly can following the crash, while your memory is still fresh. If there were other people in your vehicle at the time you were hit by a drunk driver, we advise discussing the crash with them to get a more accurate picture of what happened.
When seeking financial compensation for injuries suffered in a DUI accident, the amount you recover will be based on the damages you’ve suffered.
These damages may be financial as well as emotional. Take the time to write down all of your struggles after the crash, including:
It’s important for criminal courts to take into account the full damage done by drunk drivers. Those who have been injured in these reckless crashes can have a powerful impact if they participate in the criminal proceedings against the driver. In general, judges will be less open to plea deals in such cases that resulted in serious injuries to others.
The results of these criminal proceedings could also be valuable in a civil courtroom if you file a personal injury lawsuit against the intoxicated driver or a dram shop lawsuit against an alcohol vendor who wrongfully served that driver before the crash.
In order to ensure that you’re able to recover every dollar you need and deserve, it’s best to seek guidance from an attorney who is experienced in cases involving people who have been hit by drivers that were inebriated.
Like other car accident cases involving negligence, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit (or a wrongful death lawsuit for families of fatal accident victims) against the person responsible for causing the crash. However, there are situations where you also may have grounds for further legal action against a third party, such as an alcohol vendor or social host.
An attorney who is experienced in representing the victims of drunk drivers can help you recover the maximum settlement or court verdict that you’re entitled to for damages such as:
Many states have dram shop laws, which are in place to hold alcohol vendors liable for negligently providing alcohol to someone who should not have been served. In most dram shop states, these laws are applied in situations where an alcohol vendor (like a bar or restaurant) served alcohol to one who was either under the legal drinking age or visibly intoxicated at the time the alcohol was served.
43 states and the District of Columbia have some form of a dram shop law on the books. Here is a list of states with such laws:
Dram shop laws can vary significantly from state to state. This is why it’s important to find a lawyer who specializes in representing victims of drunk drivers in the state where your crash occurred. An attorney who is experienced in this field can help ensure that you recover every cent you need and deserve for the financial and personal setbacks you’re facing.
If you can, we advise finding out where the individual driving under the influence was drinking prior to the crash. An experienced dram shop lawyer can use this information to investigate whether the alcohol vendor was at fault for serving someone who was either underage or already visibly intoxicated at the time the alcohol was provided to them.
A dram shop claim can be especially helpful if you were hit by a drunk driver with no insurance. While you may struggle to recover financial compensation in a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver with no insurance, you may still have the chance to get the financial support you need by holding the alcohol vendor liable for serving a customer they shouldn’t have.