Your Options After Being Hit by a Drunk Driver
Any car crash is a stressful and traumatic event, but being hit by a drunk driver adds another layer of alarm and worry. Accidents happen on the road, even when drivers have the best of intentions. Drunk drivers get behind the wheel unable to keep themselves and others safe. It is frightening.
If you were hurt by a drunk driver causing a collision, you may have more than one legal remedy available to you. Under the law, you should be able to financially recover and not be left dealing with the ramifications of the accident all by yourself.
Recovering From the Driver’s Insurance
Like in most car accidents, people deal with each other’s auto insurance providers before heading to court. Many times disputes can be resolved without ever seeing the inside of the courtroom. If you were hit by a drunk driver, you will need to find out the person’s information and insurer. This way you can notify the insurance company of the accident and then file a formal third-party claim for damages. The insurance company will conduct its own investigation, including taking your written or oral statement, before it approves or denies the claim. If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal.
In most cases, if the driver is found guilty of drunk driving in criminal court, the insurer will not fight your claim and will offer you a settlement. You do not have to take the first settlement offered to you. It is best to have a Santa Rosa personal injury attorney help you negotiate to the amount you need to cover your expenses and move on.
Suing the Drunk Driver
If the drunk driver was under or uninsured, or the insurance company was not willing to settle, you may need to file a civil claim against the driver. If the drunk driver’s policy limit is below your damages, you need to go to the source to recover – the driver. An experienced attorney will investigate the driver’s assets and determine their ability to pay a settlement before you decide to spend time and money on going to court. If you have proof that the driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident, such as a DUI conviction, you have a very good chance of winning the lawsuit. However, receiving the damages can be difficult if the driver does not have a high income or valuable assets.
Suing the Liquor Provider
In certain states, you may be able to bring a civil lawsuit against the business that served the alcohol to the drunk driver prior to the incident that caused your injuries. The purpose behind these types of laws is to hold people responsible for over serving someone who is clearly inebriated. California law limits this legal option, except in cases in which a licensed business serves a visibly intoxicated minor who then causes your injuries. This option cannot be used against social hosts who serve alcohol.
Contact a Santa Rosa Personal Injury Lawyer
If you were injured by an intoxicated, underage driver, you may be able to recover for the costs of medical expenses, lost wages, permanent disability, pain and suffering, and your property damage. If the incident was in Sonoma County, Mendocino County or Lake County California, call Beck Law P.C. right away to learn more about your options and how to proceed.