It is widely known that driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal, yet still, nearly one-third of all car accidents in the United States are alcohol-related. If you’ve been hit by a drunk driver near Greensboro, you deserve to seek damages for what you’ve gone through, whether they cover medical expenses for a personal injury or damage done to your car. Let’s explore the different options you have after being hit by a drunk driver.
Criminal Cases vs. Civil Damages
They key to drink driving is that it concerns both a civil suit and a criminal offense. While there are fines and penalties associated with the crime, you cannot collect these as damages from the accident. Instead, you must file a civil claim in order to seek compensation from a drunk driver. You have a right to recover such monies if you’ve been hit by someone driving under the influence, and the damages will likely be higher than they would in other car accident claims due to the severity of the situation.
General vs. Special Damages
There are a few types of damages that you can seek as part of your civil claim after being hit by a drunk driver. Special damages cover measurable, financial losses. These are specific things that are easily measured, like lost income, medical bills, and other monetary losses. General damages are more subjective, having to do with the effects of the accident and any injuries it caused. These are meant to be compensation for mental and physical suffering and pain.
In addition to these compensatory damages, there may also be punitive damages you may be entitled to depending on the accident’s circumstances. Punitive damages are meant to use the driver as an example for others, so as to discourage drunk driving in the future. They are meant as a punishment for reckless behavior that endangers others.
Other Liabilities and Laws
Different states have different stipulations in terms of who is responsible for a drunk driving accident. Though the driver will always be held liable to some extent, other parties may also be seen as liable in the eyes of the law. In North Carolina, “Dram Shop” laws allow you to bring a claim against a bar or restaurant that served the driver alcohol after you’ve been hit by a drunk driver. There are also “social host” laws in some states, which hold parties responsible for over-serving alcohol at private events or on private property. People may be held responsible for drunk drivers if they have served them alcohol knowing they are already intoxicated or even simply underage.
Drunk Driving & Insurance
It’s easy to feel that the insurance company is on your side after you’ve been hit by a drunk driver, but remember, they are trying to pay as little in damages as possible. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to help you navigate these choppy legal waters and get you the compensation you deserve. If you’ve been hit by a drunk driver near Greensboro, give Lewis & Keller a call today.