There is a good chance that you have heard more than one story of someone being injured in a car accident, only to discover that the driver was drunk and had no insurance. Many people in this situation are forced to have their own insurance company cover the cost of the lost vehicle and medical bills. However, that means paying an out-of-pocket deductible and being put at risk for an increase in insurance premiums.
Unfortunately, this is an all too common occurrence. Regardless if you have experienced this type of situation or simply want to know what your legal options are should this ever happen to you, the information provided will help. You might think the only way to get financial compensation from the drunk driver is to take that person to small claims court, which usually has a $5,000 cap. However, you might be surprised to learn that there are other options available.
For one thing, your insurance company should provide what is known as “uninsured motorist compensation”, also referred to as UIM benefits. With this, you can recoup some degree of compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and even pain and suffering. Although this would certainly help, the problem is that the amount of compensation is usually not enough.
If it can be determined where the drunk driver was last served alcohol, that establishment can be held liable. This is why bartenders are trained to cut people off once they feel an individual has consumed too much alcohol. However, not all bartenders are responsible. Therefore, if the alcohol served to the at-fault driver contributed to the accident, a lawsuit can be filed against the bar or restaurant. Another factor is that if the driver were under the age of 21 but consumed alcohol at a friend’s house, the homeowner who supplied alcohol to someone under age could be sued.
There is also a thing called “crashworthiness” claims which means that while your injuries were the result of being struck by a drunk driver, if your vehicle’s airbags failed to deploy or your seatbelt came unlatched due to the impact, your automaker could be found at fault as well.
Even construction companies, cities, and private road engineering companies can be sued for a drunk driving accident whereby you sustained injuries. For example, if a drunk driver was dealing with dangerous road conditions or traveling through a construction zone with missing or misplaced signs, you have additional legal recourse.
Something else to consider is that if the drunk driver who caused your injuries decides to file bankruptcy, he or she can still be held legally responsible. According to the Federal Bankruptcy Code, any debt that arises from either a DUI or DWI accident cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. That means if the at-fault driver can pay, the court system will ensure that happens.
Obviously, the goal is to make the drunk driver fully liable for your injuries and property loss but as shown, you have other options. Because a drunk driving accident can be complex, it is imperative that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney. Your attorney will be aware of all of these scenarios, and then some. Because of that, you have a good chance of getting the financial compensation that you deserve.