Suing Drunk Drivers

shutterstock_39959563A car accident caused by a drunk driver can alter your quality of life, especially if the crash resulted in serious bodily injuries. Long-term hospitalization, frequent outpatient visits to a health professional’s office or—in cases of death, funeral costs—could result in paying out-of-pocket for expenses not covered by your insurance policies. The unfairness of it all may motivate you to seek restitution from the intoxicated individual who disregarded traffic safety laws and disrupted your life.

If you decide to recover damages for your economic losses and your physical pain and suffering, contact the North Carolina auto accident attorneys at Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers. Our experienced legal professionals represent clients who have been the victims of personal injuries caused by drunk drivers. Our initial consultation is free and we will evaluate your claim against the person or entity that may be responsible for your losses.

What Can I Sue A Drunk Driver For?

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, there were 1,292 fatal crashes in North Carolina in 2012. Of the fatalities, 402 or 31 percent involved an alcohol-impaired driver with a blood alcohol content level of .08 percent or higher. Drivers who caused vehicle crashes due to alcohol impairment can face criminal charges, financial penalties and punishment that could include incarceration. Additionally, these drivers can face civil lawsuits that seek compensation for the damages that they caused.

Punitive Damages

The victim of a DUI accident may also pursue and recover for punitive damages if the at fault driver is convicted of driving while impaired.  This can add thousands of dollars to the normal personal injury settlement.  It is imperative that you become involved in the criminal case by contacting the District Attorney’s office and showing your concern so the matter is not dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge.

Vehicle accidents can be costly, especially when injuries are involved.

If you are injured, you may be able to sue a drunk driver and receive compensation for:

  •         Medical expenses for treatment, therapy, or in-home health care
  •         Medical supplies
  •         Income losses, including wages and earning capacity
  •         Pain and suffering, particularly for a serious bodily injury
  •         Property damage
  •         Funeral expenses
  •         Punitive Damages

If the drunk driver did not have car insurance or has an auto policy that cannot cover the cost of your injuries, you may be able to receive compensation from your own car insurer if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage as part of your auto insurance policy.

Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers can help you determine the legal path to take in your pursuit of compensation. We also negotiate settlements with insurance companies for the impaired drivers and pursue legal challenges when these companies are reluctant to pay you what you may be entitled to under state law.

The Driver May Not Be The Only One Liable

Although the drunk driver is the one who actually causes an accident, North Carolina’s dram shop law also holds responsible the establishments or individuals who supplied alcohol to the intoxicated driver prior to the accident. Dram shop is a legal term for an establishment that sells alcoholic beverages, such as restaurants, bars, clubs or stores.

A former North Carolina state representative who was seriously injured by a drunk driver filed a lawsuit in 2013 against the motorist and the restaurant-bar that sold the alcoholic beverages prior to the crash. According to the Winston-Salem Journal, the lawsuit claimed that the driver had a blood alcohol content level that was more than three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Although the driver died in the December 2011 crash, the driver’s estate was named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The lawsuit was settled in October 2014 and terms of the settlement remained confidential.

Restaurants, bars, clubs, stores or a local Alcoholic Beverages Control Board can be held responsible for an alcohol-related crash if:

  •         They negligently served or sold alcoholic beverages to an underage individual or an individual who was visibly or noticeably drunk;
  •         The alcoholic beverages served or sold caused the individual to become impaired;
  •         The driver’s alcohol impairment caused the crash which resulted in an injury or fatality.

In addition to establishments, adults who host social events in which more alcohol is served to noticeably drunk individuals or to underage individuals can be sued under the state’s dram shop law.

Let Us Help You

To discover the legal options available to you, talk with a knowledgeable attorney at Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers about your situation. If you decide to pursue a claim, we will prepare the court documents and file the lawsuit on your behalf. Our skilled accident lawyers will also represent you in court and handle all court-related matters regarding your case.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment and find out how we can further assist you.