Alcohol-related accidents are one of the most common reasons for motor vehicle crashes. The CDC reports that nearly 29 people in the U.S. die every day in an accident caused by a driver under the influence of alcohol. Even when the crash isn’t fatal, the physical and emotional trauma that one experiences can be debilitating.
Unfortunately, though these types of accidents occur quite often, it’s not always a cut and dry case when it comes to charging the guilty party and pursuing compensation. Insurance companies will try to fight your claim and do whatever it takes to lessen the charge and reduce the claim amount. This can understandably be extremely frustrating for the injured victim to deal with. In complicated cases such as this, it is often necessary to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to fight for your cause to get you the compensation that you deserve.
Pursuing Liability after Being Injured in a Drunk Driving Accident
After you’ve been injured in an accident by a drunk driver, before you can even pursue a case for compensation, you will be asked to see a doctor. This is so the physician can evaluate the extent of your injuries and report back to the insurance company. If the injuries and damages are minimal, the insurance company may simply pay a small amount for compensation.
However, if you feel you deserve more or if your injuries are much more severe to the point that they are interfering in your ability to live your daily life, you may need to seek the help of a lawyer. It is common for insurance companies to fight your claim in an effort to pay as little money as possible. In these situations, your lawyer will step in to help prove not only who was at fault but to what extent the accident has essentially damaged your ability to live your life.
Who Is the Responsible Party?
Though your lawyer will fight to get you fair compensation, determining who is actually at fault and is responsible for the accident is not always simple. You might think that the drunk driver is the obvious one to blame, but if they don’t have insurance you aren’t likely to get any money from them. There are other parties that can be held responsible that may have better insurance that you can seek compensation from. Examples of whom you can pursue liability include:
- The driver
- A bar, restaurant, or other establishment owner where the alcohol was served
- The store where the alcohol was purchased
- The individual(s) who was hosting a party where alcohol was served
Cases where someone other than the driver is pursued for liability involves something called dram shop law. In these cases, if the driver does not have sufficient insurance, your lawyer may try to prove that the establishment that served or sold the alcohol, or the host of a party, is responsible for the accident occurring. These cases can also be tricky because you must be able to show proof that the place or person that served or sold the alcohol was aware that the individual was already drunk when they gave them more alcohol.
In addition to pursuing a personal injury case, there may also be a criminal prosecution that occurs at the same time. This means that the guilty party is not only being pursued for liability to pay you for your injuries but they are also being charged with a crime and may have to serve time in jail. When this happens there can be a lot more to handle and a lot of things that overlap, making it even more necessary to seek guidance from an attorney.
What Damages Can I Seek Compensation For?
When we talk about damages in terms of a personal injury case, we are talking about more than your physical injuries and property damage, such as damage to your car. There are many things that you can seek compensation for, including:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of wages from being out of work due to your injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish or emotional trauma
- Property damages
- Wrongful death damages if there was a death caused by the accident
- Punitive damages (these types of damages are sought as a form of punishment – to punish the driver for what they did to you, especially if they did so purposefully with malicious intent.)
Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer
As you can see, there are several moving parts that go into pursuing liability after a drunk driving accident. Rarely do insurance companies pay a fair amount of compensation upfront. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you may need to hire an attorney to get fair and thorough compensation for all damages incurred.
At Crossen Law Firm, our team has over 20 years of experience fighting for the victims of drunk driving accidents. We are dedicated to working tirelessly to get you the compensation that you deserve. Contact us today or give us a call for a free consultation. (317) 401-8626
Video Transcript (blog version):
If you’re injured by a drunk driver, there’s a lot of issues that come along with it. One is the type of damages that you might be able to receive. One element of damages that your lawyer may pursue is punitive damages. Punitive damages are rare, but yet it can be awarded by a jury if you’re hit by a drunk driver. Punitive damages stem from punishment. What money award can a jury give to you, to punish that drunk driver for hitting you so that it doesn’t happen again. One other issue to look at is a lot of times if you’re injured or in an accident involving a drunk driver is there will be a criminal prosecution of a case that runs simultaneously with your personal injury case. You want to make sure you consult a good personal injury lawyer to help you with an accident involving a drunk driver. That lawyer will in turn help you and guide you through that criminal process with the prosecutor’s office, because they may want you to testify in the criminal prosecution against the drunk driver.
In the meantime, you also have your personal injury lawyer who’s helping guide you through the difficult process of recovering from the insurance company for the drunk driver, or possibly the employer for the drunk driver, or against the drunk driver personally. The best thing that you can do to help yourself is to consult a personal injury lawyer.