According to MADD, every two minutes, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash. Sadly, this glaring statistic means drunk drivers are all too common, and they are often the cause of major accidents resulting in injuries or deaths.
Drunk driving injuries can include major life-chainring injuries, including paralysis, back and spine injuries, mental health anguish, and much more. If you have been in an accident where a drunk driver was involved, here are some of your options that will help you sort out your case.
Remember, you can get help after being hit by a drunk driver and they can be held accountable.
Don’t Rush for a Settlement
After a drunk driving crash, once you’ve gained consciousness and find yourself more stabilized, you may find other parties are pressing you to settle your insurance claim, admit partial or total fault, and in essence to do things that might end up hurting any claims or future legal action you might take. Don’t rush to make any decisions at this point. Well, unless the decision is to talk to a car accident lawyer who can advise you of what to expect in the days and weeks ahead.
Keep in mind, or if you read our earlier article on this, recall that sometimes injuries won’t even appear for days or weeks after your accident.
Another reason to not rush things is that there might be a chance that the drunk driver them-self is facing legal action in the form of a DUI, negligent driving, or some other legal battle as a result of their actions. The outcome of that may change the way you would want to act in regards to seeking compensation.
The Drunk Driver’s Insurance Policy
In many cases of drunk driving, the driver at fault does not have an insurance policy or has a policy that is insufficient. This is especially common in Washington State. If this is a situation that you’re in, you’ll want to talk to a good car accident lawyer and go over your options.
Your options may include exploring the liability of the restaurant, bar, or event that provided the alcohol that caused the accident. This is because of a Dram Shop Law, that exists in most states, including Washington State.
The statutes governing Dram Shop laws vary by state, but a common theme is that you would have to establish:
Proof of sale of the alcohol to the person involved, proof of injuries, the link between the sale of alcohol – the consumption – intoxication – and operation of the vehicle causing the accident, and finally that the intoxication itself was at least partially at cause for the accident and any injuries or damages arising from it.
In addition to seeking restitution from the drunk driver’s insurance policy, from the drunk driver them-self, and from the dram shop, you may want to have a second look at your own insurance policy. Some insurance companies offer financial assistance for this specific scenario, a drunk driving accident. Your car accident lawyer can probably help you out there too!
Know the Difference Between Civil DUI and Criminal DUI Cases
When a drunk driving incident occurs, there may be criminal court proceedings. These are different than your potential intention to file a case for compensation for your losses. With the intention to collect damages you’ll be filing a civil case against the driver, insurance company, dram shop, etc. This will be different than the criminal proceedings, which you may be a witness to, but won’t be the driver’s seat of, so to speak.
In regards to a potential civil suit for drunk driving, you might consider seeking special damages, in the form of compensation and covering medical losses, property losses etc. As well as general damages due to your mental and physical health suffering, chronic pain, etc.
Long-Term Disability Insurance and Social Security Disability
If you’ve been in a particularly catastrophic car accident due to a drunk driver you may not be able to work for an extended period of time. It’s possible that your employer has a short-term disability plan in place, and through your benefits, you may also have a long-term disability plan. When you’re able you’ll want to talk to your employer and find out about how to start filing for long-term disability.
Likewise, you may want to consider a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance. This is an insurance policy that you’ve been paying into with your payroll taxes since you’ve started working. And it provides a percentage of your current earned income. Between long-term disability benefits and Social Security Disability, you might be able to earn enough $ to see you through the rough times until you’re able to get back to work.