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Protecting Your Rights: Must-Knows Following a Drunk Driving Incident



Drunk driving in numbers

As avoidable as drunk driving may seem, statistics reveal that at least 28 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes every day, as per a recent study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The same study revealed that about a third of overall car crash fatalities in the country involve drunk drivers and that almost twice as many alcohol-related crashes occur during the weekend. 

In another study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the data for the years 2009 to 2018 showed that in California alone, there were 9,288 fatalities—ranking the state among the highest in drunk driving fatalities during the said years. Most recent statistics from 2022 show that there were at least 1,069 fatalities from car crashes, with alcohol-related road accidents taking up 30% of that number.

Drunk driving accidents lead to tragic outcomes such as physical injuries and death, and as such, it is treated as a serious offense. In cases like these, it’s vital for victims and their families to retain aggressive counsel who can advocate for them to attain both justice and proper compensation for their losses.

Understanding your legal options after a drunk driving incident

After experiencing the devastating effects of a drunk driving incident, it is crucial for you to understand your legal options. As someone who has suffered the consequences of another person’s irresponsible actions, you have the right to pursue justice.

One possible legal option is filing a personal injury lawsuit, which can help you recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Another option is pursuing a wrongful death claim if you have lost a loved one due to a drunk driving incident. This can provide some measure of financial support during this difficult time.

It is important to consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in drunk driving cases to navigate through the legal complexities and ensure your rights are protected. Remember, you don’t have to face this alone – there are legal options available to help you seek the justice you deserve.

How much is an average settlement when hit by a drunk driver?

Generally speaking, an average settlement in drunk driving incidents ranges from $50k to $100k, but this number can still vary depending on the injuries sustained and the gravity of the accident itself. For major injuries, settlements can exceed $1,000,000.

It’s important to note that each settlement comes with its own specifics, depending on the circumstances surrounding a case in addition to the insurance policies at hand. Typically, insurance checks include medical expenses related to the injuries incurred during the accident, lost wages in instances wherein a party has to take time off work to recover from his injuries, pain, loss of consortium, funeral burial expenses, legal fees, and punitive damages.

Does car insurance cover drunk driving accidents?

It is within a car insurance company’s power and discretion to deny coverage for a drunk driving accident. Often, companies deny claims from persons acting recklessly or negligently but extend coverage to persons who had not intentionally caused the accident. This coverage includes damages and, sometimes, any fees if a car is totaled. 

As previously mentioned, however, coverage for drunk driving cases is up to the discretion of insurance companies. Some companies consider drunk driving accidents as intentional and, as such, grounds for denial of coverage.

How do you set up a drunk driving accident claim?

California is an “at-fault” state, which means that negligent drivers may be held for damages. As such, victims of drunk driving accidents should establish that said drivers were indeed responsible for the collision. Like with most personal injury claims, this is best achieved through comprehensive evidence-gathering, which covers (but is not limited to): police reports, photographs of the incident, witness testimonies, and prior arrest records.

Working with a Personal Injury Attorney

Generally speaking, victims of drunk driving accidents can represent themselves in court. However, it is always advisable to seek legal representation from personal injury attorneys who are well-versed and experienced with drunk driving cases. Personal injury laws are highly technical and require extensive documentation to best support an injured individual’s claims. These are areas that come as second nature to experienced attorneys, who oversee everything from evidence gathering and addressing their clients’ concerns to undertaking settlement negotiations and, wherever necessary, preparing for litigation. Lawyers can also help with maximizing financial compensation by seeking further relief such as rehabilitative care, emotional distress, and physical impairment. 

Here at Ellis Helm, APC, we offer our clients several decades of combined experience in addition to a highly hands-on approach. Our attorneys communicate with our clients regularly throughout a case and strongly advocate for their best interests. We represent clients who have suffered from wrongful deaths in their families, vehicular accidents, and drunk driving incidents and have a “no recovery, no fee” guarantee. If you are a victim of a drunk driving accident, get ahead of your case and consult Ellis Helm today.