Posted on November 8, 2016 in Drunk Driving
Drunk driving is a serious issue. Every year, thousands of people die due to drunk driving, and these incidents cost the United States upwards of $130 billion each year. When people drive under the influence of alcohol, they put every other motorist and passenger on the road around them at grave risk.
If you’ve been involved in a drunk driving crash, it’s important to have some idea of your options for legal recourse. Just like any other car accident, if the driver who hit you caused injuries and property damage, you can file a personal injury claim against him or her to seek compensation for your losses.
In many legal disputes, the two opposing sides will attempt to negotiate a settlement, and the defendant’s legal counsel will offer a compensation package to dissuade the plaintiff from pursuing the case. Litigation is usually a very time-consuming, stressful, and expensive process for everyone involved. Settlement is often an attractive alternative that can provide an injured plaintiff with a fair amount of compensation and save both sides the headaches that accompany lengthy legal battles.
Despite the fact that a settlement can make the legal process much faster, injured plaintiffs should realize that once a claim is settled, the law considers it closed. If new effects of the incident don’t appear until much later, the injured party will not be able to seek compensation. For this reason, it is critical to contact a personal injury attorney.
The damages an injured person can claim from a drunk driving accident can include:
This can be emergency response services from EMTs, hospital bills, any necessary surgeries, and prescription costs, among other things.
The plaintiff’s attorney will likely hire medical experts to prepare reports and testify as witnesses at trial. These experts will offer their professional opinions concerning the levels of physical pain and psychological trauma the plaintiff suffered due to the accident. The court will use this testimony to determine a reasonable amount of compensation for the plaintiff’s pain and suffering.
The collision likely damaged the plaintiff’s car and possibly other belongings inside the car. The plaintiff can seek compensation for these losses, too.
If the accident forced the plaintiff to take time away from work due to his or her injuries, he or she can claim lost wages. Additionally, if the plaintiff suffered a permanent disability that prevents him or her from ever resuming his or her job, the plaintiff’s attorney can argue for compensation for the wages the plaintiff would have reasonably expected to earn for the rest of his or her career.
In some cases, a court may award punitive damages in a personal injury case. As the name implies, punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant for grossly negligent or overtly reckless behaviors. For example, if a drunk driver injures another motorist and it is the second or third time this has happened, the judge may issue punitive damages as a way to discourage the defendant from repeating his or her dangerous behavior. Most states have caps that dictate the maximum amount of punitive damages that can be awarded in a case.
Insurance also plays a large role in DUI accident cases. Some insurance companies may attempt to avoid paying out on an injured person’s policy by arguing that he or she had some degree of fault in the incident. Your criminal defense attorney may also advise you to file a claim against the drunk driver’s insurance policy. Most insurers of drunk drivers will make every effort to settle a claim rather than let the issue go to trial.