Car accidents routinely cause physical, mental, and emotional devastation to their victims. In cases where the driver who caused the accident was intoxicated, outcomes are even more devastating because victims know that the accident was preventable. Had that driver chosen to obey the law and not drive drunk, they may not have been injured, or their loved one may have never died.
Drunk driving accidents are painful for everyone involved, but if you were involved in one, all is not lost. You can still claim compensation from the at-fault party and their insurance. Knowing this may lead you to think about how much compensation you could potentially recover if you did file a claim.
Fortunately, you can speak with a representative from Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC to get a precise estimate.
Are Drunk Driving Accidents More Serious than Other Accidents?
Although typical car accidents and drunk driving accidents can both cause the same forms of damage to victims, drunk driving accidents should be perceived as more serious. When a driver gets into an accident while drunk, they are also guilty of committing a crime. This means that, beyond civil liability, they are also criminally liable for their actions.
In DUI cases, criminal prosecution may occur before you even file a personal injury claim against the driver. Though, this can be a problem because the fines that the guilty driver incurs upon conviction could limit the amount they have to pay for your damages. While insurance should cover a majority of damages, limited coverage may mean that you will be left without adequate compensation.
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Who Is Liable for Drunk Driving Accidents?
Usually, drunk driving-related accidents are more complex because they often involve multiple parties that may be liable. Drunk driving frequently leads to multi-car accidents, meaning the fault must be determined for each involved vehicle. Beyond the drivers of cars involved in the accident, businesses or hosts who served alcohol can also share some of the liability.
Dram shop laws allow people who get hurt in drunk driving accidents to pursue compensation from establishments that sold alcohol to a driver before an accident occurred. If the driver was provided with an excessive amount of alcohol and not cut off from drinking, the source of that alcohol could be legally responsible for the accident. To make a case against establishments, you will need a talented lawyer because they are likely to be prepared with legal defenses designed to protect them from any liability.
Does Car Insurance Always Cover Drunk Driving Accidents?
No, in at-fault states, insurance companies infrequently provide coverage that protects drivers who intentionally drove after consuming alcohol. This behavior is classified as intentional misconduct, which is prohibited in a majority of car insurance contracts. The reason this is possible is that insurers set their policies up to say that if you knowingly choose to drink and drive while understanding that the act is dangerous, your damages will not be covered.
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What Can You Do if Insurance Does Not Offer Compensation?
If the person who caused the accident has an insurance policy that does not cover the accident and injury, you have two options. The first option is filing a claim with any underinsured or uninsured motorist insurance policy you have. These policies protect you in instances where a driver who crashed into you does not have adequate coverage to pay for your damages.
They often do not want to pay out the maximum amount, so you will need a lawyer to effectively file your uninsured motorist insurance claim. Your second option is to pursue compensation directly from the driver. Though, this is unlikely to prove fruitful because there is a chance that the driver will not have the assets needed to pay for your damages.
That does not mean it is not worth trying, but you need to go into the situation aware of the potential risk of being unable to acquire fair compensation directly from the at-fault driver.
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How Much Money Do People Usually Get for Drunk Driving Accidents?
The value of a drunk driving accident claim depends on the circumstances of the accident and surrounding events. If you were severely injured, your case will be worth more because claims are designed to provide compensation for economic damages, like medical bills and property damage, as well as non-economic damage, like pain and suffering.
To find out the exact value of your claim, you are going to need a lawyer. They should have experience litigating drunk driving accident claims, meaning you can trust them to give you a fair estimate of what you deserve.
How Are DUI Accident Damages Calculated?
When you speak to a DUI accident lawyer, they will start by evaluating the details of your claim. The first step is identifying your total economic losses. Some economic losses you may have incurred include:
- Past, present, and future medical expenses associated with the accident
- Property damage or loss
- Lost income or wages
- Lost future earning ability
- Other financial losses
In many cases, the economic damages are a bulk of the total settlement you can expect. But it is not all of it. The next step is calculating damages associated with the permanence of your damages.
If injuries you suffered are long-lasting, permanent, or exceedingly severe, there is a chance that you also incurred non-economic damages. These are damages that cannot be quantified based on monetary costs. Usually, the more severe your injuries are, the more you will be able to claim non-economic damages.
Some non-economic damages you could claim include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of quality of life
Once the economic and non-economic damages are fully calculated, some states may reduce them depending on the levels of fault attributed to all involved parties. This step only occurs in comparative fault states, which assign a percentage of liability to each at-fault party in accidents.
Percentage of Fault
If you are more than 50% responsible for an accident, you are not allowed to claim compensation. Though, even if you were injured by a drunk driver who was mostly at fault, the amount of compensation you can claim can be diminished if you were partially at fault for the accident.
Fight for Fair Compensation Following a Drunk Driving Accident
Although the criminal justice system will handle the process of penalizing the at-fault driver for their illegal actions, that does not help you pay for the damages caused by your drunk driving accident. To get justice and fair compensation, seek help from skilled legal counsel. The talented team at Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC can help you fight for your rights and maximum compensation.
To get started, reach out to our team using the contact form on this page.