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I Was Injured In a Car Accident By A Driver Who Had Been Drinking – Now What?

Driving While Drunk

The dangers associated with drunk driving have been well-publicized. For decades, young people have been warned about the risks from groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and DARE. Still, drunk driving continues to kill 29 people each day in the United States. While distracted and drowsy drivers have grabbed headlines in recent years, drunk drivers remain some of the most dangerous motorists on the road. More than just illegal, driving while drunk is a moral decision that often leaves people seriously injured and even dead.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a drunk driving accident, there are a number of legal options available for you to seek justice and compensation for the injuries the car accident caused. In some cases you may be able to negotiate your claim directly with the drunk driver’s insurance company, and in others filing a car accident lawsuit may be the best option. In certain drunk driving cases you may also end up a witness in a criminal court case.

Car Accident Settlement

Victims of Drunk Drivers: Physical and Psychological Trauma

Victims of drunk drivers face both physical and emotional trauma. The psychological impact of being involved in a car accident with a drunk driver can leave a person with serious phobias of driving or even riding in a car. This can make it difficult for victims to live their lives the way they once could. Simple acts like commuting to and from work can be anxiety-inducing for those who have survived a collision involving a drunk driver.

Drunk driving accidents can also cause catastrophic injuries. In many cases, victims escape such crashes but find their lives are forever changed by the injuries they sustain. Many require significant time off of work to recuperate, costing them the much-needed income they rely upon to pay bills. Others find they are permanently disabled because of their injuries and can no longer work in their field.

Fatal Crashes While Drunk

Tragically, some victims do not survive their collisions with drunk drivers. Those driving while drunk often travel at high speeds, head in the wrong direction on the road, or are completely clueless about the traffic around them. While accidents that occur between sober drivers can indeed be significant, the odds of a deadly crash increase when a drunk driver is involved.

Families who lost a loved one in a car accident can collect wrongful death settlements to ensure that the dependents of the victim have plenty of resources to live their lives in the absence of their family breadwinner.

Taking Action Against Drunk Drivers

While nothing can undo the damage done by those driving while drunk, victims and their families can take legal action. Both criminal and civil suits can be filed against those who choose to drink and drive. While police and the district attorney’s office handle criminal allegations, a car accident lawyer can represent the wishes of the victim in a civil case. Attorneys can pursue compensation for the damages caused by the drunk driver.

Medical bills, pharmaceutical costs and the price of physical therapy can all be covered by a car accident settlement. Wages that victims lose out on while recovering can also be included in a drunk driving accident settlement, as can the long-term care required for those disabled by their accidents.

Punitive Damages in Drunk Driving Accidents Requires Litigation

One of the reasons victims of drunk driving accidents get bigger average settlement payouts is the element of punitive damages involved in drunk driving cases. Punitive damages are often applied in egregious accident cases as a means to:

  1. Further punish the at fault driver for their reckless/dangerous/malicious actions.
  2. Further compensate the accident victim for their pain, trauma, and long term recovery.
  3. Set an example in the hopes that the fear of harsh punishments will deter potential drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel.

Typically punitive damages in car accident cases come into play in cases involving gross negligence, such as driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, speeding, or road rage. However this type of car accident compensation is only available to claimants willing to file a lawsuit and take their case to court – auto insurers will only compensate a victim for medical bills (past, present and future), lost income, property damage, and pain & suffering.

A free consultation with an attorney familiar with drunk driving accidents in your state will usually give you a much clearer picture of what your options are, what your drunk driving settlement might be worth if you settle directly with insurance, and the costs & potential financial benefits associated with taking the case to court.

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