Victims of DUI Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents involving drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol often result in long-term catastrophic injuries. Victims of DUI accidents commonly pursue compensation for their injuries in a civil case that is independent of the offending driver’s criminal trial. A civil case is the only opportunity that the injured party will have to recover damages from the at-fault motorist. Obtaining the services of an experienced car accident attorney can help you appropriately assess your financial costs, determine future medical expenses, and negotiate settlement amounts with the insurance companies that are involved. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a drunk driver, please contact a personal injury attorney in your area to discuss your case.
Impaired Driving Statistics
Alcohol-related collisions comprise nearly one-third of all accidents in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, two out of three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime. Because of the prevalence of DUI accidents, it is important to understand how these statistics may affect your safety, including:
- Roughly one-third of drivers arrested for DUI are repeat offenders
- Someone is injured every two minutes in a DUI accident
- The average drunk driver has driven while impaired 80 times before being arrested
- Over 1.1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics in 2014
- 10,265 people were killed in DUI accidents and 290,000 were injured in 2015
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a crime and offenders will be aggressively prosecuted for putting other lives in danger. Depending on the state laws where the crime occurred and the level of the driver’s intoxication, the infraction may be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. In most cases, the DUI will be considered a felony if it involves property destruction or any type of personal injury. Regardless of the classification, the criminal trial serves to determine the guilt or innocence of the offending party, not to award compensation to the injured victims of the accident.
Obtaining the services of an experienced accident attorney can greatly increase your chances of not only proving your case, but also in recovering the appropriate amount of compensation for your injuries.
However, victims of DUI accidents may pursue damages in a civil case that is completely separate from the criminal trial. In this type of motor vehicle accident claim, the plaintiff must prove that the accident - and any resultant injuries - were caused by the drunk driver. Obtaining the services of an experienced accident attorney can greatly increase your chances of not only proving your case, but also in recovering the appropriate amount of compensation for your injuries.
Accident victims commonly pursue special damages to compensate for the physical out-of-pocket expenses that they incur following their injuries. This classification of compensation may include medical costs, lost income, rehabilitation expenses, and property damage.
Accident victims can also pursue compensation for damages that do not have an easily definable monetary value. General damages are intended to compensate victims for more subjective losses, such as mental pain and suffering or loss of consortium.
Punitive damages are intended to punish the at-fault driver for particularly reckless behavior that shows a conscious disregard for the safety of others. Driving while severely under the influence of drugs or alcohol typically constitutes gross negligence.
Insurance Companies and Settlement Offers
Following a DUI accident, the drunk driver’s insurance company will typically reach out to you and offer a settlement to quickly resolve any claims that you may have. It is in the best interest of the insurance company to finalize your case as quickly as possible and avoid responsibility for your future medical expenses. However, the majority of settlement offers are intended to minimize the financial costs of the insurance company, and are typically much less than the award to which you are entitled.
Insurance companies commonly offer larger settlement amounts in DUI cases in order to settle the claim in an expedited manner.
A qualified accident attorney is experienced in dealing with the unfair tactics of insurance companies, and in properly evaluating the long-term financial costs of your injuries. Insurance companies commonly offer larger settlement amounts in DUI cases in order to settle the claim in an expedited manner and prevent their client from being exposed in a trial. However, even these larger amounts are often insufficient to cover the actual losses because most accident victims do not accurately account for the future expenses related to their injuries.
Many states have laws pertaining to third-party liability in DUI accident cases. Sometimes called “dram shop” or “social host” liability, these statutes provide an avenue for injured parties to bring a civil suit against other persons or businesses that may have contributed to the accident. “Dram shop” laws allow accident victims to file claims against bars or restaurants that sold or served alcohol to the drunk driver prior to the accident. “Social host” laws are intended to hold private hosts responsible for providing alcohol to someone who is underage or for continuing to serve alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person.
Uninsured and Underinsured Drunk Drivers
If you have been struck by a drunk driver who does not carry insurance or who has insufficient coverage, you may be able to file a claim against your own insurance company. Most policies offer coverage for uninsured or underinsured motorists, and in the event of an accident, this provides an opportunity to recover compensation beyond the physical costs that you incur. This coverage is an essential part of your insurance plan; without it, you may not be able to recover damages for your injuries, depending on the laws of the state in which the accident occurred.
Following a DUI Accident
If you have been involved in an accident - even a relatively small fender bender - and you think that the other driver may be intoxicated, it is imperative that you call the police to have them document the scene of the accident. Evidence can disappear quickly following any accident, especially in cases that involve drugs or alcohol. Impaired driving shows willful misconduct on the part of the offending driver, and an experienced car accident attorney can leverage this documentation into a larger settlement amount from the insurance company.
Contact a DUI Accident Attorney
If you have been involved in an accident with an impaired driver, you may be entitled to a significantly greater settlement than what the insurance company will offer. Please contact an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney in your area who can help you understand the details of your case, properly evaluate your injuries, and take on the insurance companies for you so that you can focus on healing and recovery.