It is sad to say that every day in the United States there is someone who is killed in an alcohol-related car accident. In fact, car accidents that are alcohol-related comprise almost 1/3 of every accident in the United States. If you are involved in such an accident, you may wonder what are your legal rights and options. The following information will help to clarify any questions that you may have in regards to this important issue.
When a person is involved in a car accident because of an alcohol-related incident, they need to know that this type of accident is quite different from a typical car accident. The reason why it is different is that anyone who drives under the influence of alcohol is breaking the law. If you have been hit by someone, who has been drinking and then you do have the right to pursue fair compensation from the guilty driver. It should be noted however that any claim for compensation against a drunk driver will not be a criminal case but rather a civil case.
The local prosecutor or district attorney may file charges against the drunk driver but as mentioned above the compensation that you receive will not be using this criminal case. Anyone who files a civil case against an impaired driver is seeking financial compensation for their injuries. In fact, the only way that you can recover compensation from the guilty driver is using a civil claim. The compensation is called “damages, ” and it can take several forms.
There are general damages and special damages. General damages will compensate you for mental and physical pain and suffering. Special damages will compensate you for any expenses such as medical costs, rehabilitation costs, vehicle repairs, or lost income. Both of these types of damages are called compensatory damages. There are certain cases where a person may claim punitive damages. Punitive damages are claimed as a way to punish the drunk driver for his apparently reckless behavior. These type of damages will hopefully discourage the driver from displaying a similar type of behavior in the future.
It is important to note that immediately after such an accident you will receive a call from the insurance company of the drunk driver. They will most certainly offer you a specific amount of money to settle the claim quickly. The purpose of this call is to catch you off guard so that you settle the claim before carefully considering the ramifications. They do this so that they can avoid any expensive future medical expenses. You need to understand that the guilty party’s insurance company does not have your best interests at heart. Never settle this type of claim before talking to your personal injury lawyer.
A car accident caused by a drunk driver will obviously allow you to make a claim against the driver, but there may be other people involved. Each state is different with these type of laws, but some states will allow you also to sue a business or other persons. The Dram Shop Law is in place so that an injured party can make a civil claim against a business, restaurant, or bar that has served the alcohol to the intoxicated driver.
Depending on the state that you live in you may also have the opportunity to introduce a civil claim against a private host who has given alcohol to anyone who is under age or noticeably intoxicated. This law was put into place so that others would be accountable when serving alcohol and especially to any person who is obviously drunk.
Unfortunately, many accidents caused by intoxicated drivers result in complications because the driver does not have any or sufficient car insurance coverage. In this type of situation, a Drama Shop Claim becomes critical. An injured party can also at times bring a claim for this kind of accident against their insurance company. Many insurance policies provide this feature, and it is important for you to consider this feature when purchasing an insurance policy.
The bottom line is that if you are ever involved in a motor vehicle accident with a drunk driver, it is critical to immediately seek the advice of a qualified attorney who is licensed in your state.