The statistics surrounding drunk drivers are staggering, even in a day and age when information, awareness, and education about driving under the influence is higher than ever before. Almost a third of all car accidents in the United States involve alcohol on some level, and many more involve serious injuries.
Those who are hurt by drunk drivers on the roadways deserve compensation to help recover from their injuries, but it’s vital to take the right steps. Learn about your options if you’re hit by a drunk driver, what you should do to get compensation, and how a qualified car accident attorney can help.
Civil vs. Criminal Cases
The first thing to understand is that a drunk driving accident falls under two very different case laws. Driving under the influence is a crime, so anyone driving while intoxicated is likely to be charged as such. However, this has little to do with you getting compensated for your injuries. The law under which you file a personal injury suit is called civil law. The compensation you recover is called “damages,” and comes in two forms: special damages and general damages.
Special damages are for things like lost income, medical expenses, and economic loss you suffer from the injury, whereas general damages are for more subjective things like pain and suffering, emotional damages, loss of companionship and the like. In some cases, especially if the accident was egregious, you may be entitled to punitive damages which are designed specifically to punish the offending driver.
Settlements and Initial Offers
In almost every case, the insurance company representing the drunk driver is going to tender a lowball offer in an effort to pay out as little as possible. They might use a number of tactics to get you to accept, ranging from challenging the severity of your injuries to trying to trick or bully you into signing away your rights. Remember that you’re the injured party, and you shouldn’t let them convince you to accept a lower offer than you deserve.
Who Can You Sue?
In some states, you may be able to sue not just the drunk driver, but the person who gave them the alcohol, or the person whose car they are driving, if it’s not their vehicle. The parties responsible could vary, and it can be tricky to determine who exactly is responsible for paying for your injury. This is another tactic some insurance companies use, passing the blame among various potentially responsible parties.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
People who are injured in drunk driving accidents need help to ensure their rights are protected, they can properly fight the insurance companies involved, and hold the responsible parties accountable for the injuries suffered. A qualified, experienced car accident lawyer knows how to challenge these non-payment tactics and get you the compensation you deserve so you can get your bills paid for, get back on your feet and regain control of your life. If you find yourself in this situation and you live in Southern Colorado, contact Heuser & Heuser for a free case consultation today!