Drunk driving accidents can change the victim’s entire life in the blink of an eye—whether on Interstates 68 or 79, leaving Mountaineer Field, or the lively area between Don Knotts Boulevard and Spruce Street. Drunk drivers frequently have poor control over their vehicles due to inhibited vision, poor reaction times, and difficulty making coherent decisions. Unfortunately, this often means that drunk driving often results in severe injuries, including injuries like traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord damage, that can impact the victim for the rest of his or her life.
Did you suffer injuries in a drunk driving accident?
Do you want to learn more about your legal rights, including the potential for a drunk driving accident claim?
Table of Contents
- The Lifelong Impact of Drunk Driving Accidents
- Seeking Compensation After a Drunk Driving Accident
- Drunk Driving FAQ
- Do You Need an Attorney After a Drunk Driving Accident?
The Lifelong Impact of Drunk Driving Accidents
When a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds the legal limit, his or her ability to control the vehicle deteriorates substantially.
As a result, drunk drivers can cause severe injuries, many of which may have lifelong consequences for the victim:
- Traumatic brain injuries can cause difficulty with focus and concentration as well as trouble with emotional regulation.
- Spinal cord injuries can leave the victim partially or fully paralyzed below the site of the injury.
- Amputations lead to the victim losing a limb in the accident or as a result of tissue damage after the accident.
- Broken bones include multiple or severe breaks, which can require surgery.
- Burns may result if the car bursts into flame.
Victims of drunk driving accidents may struggle to complete work tasks, or may even lack the ability to return to work for a long time after the accident. Victims may require aid in self-care, including bathing or getting around. Some victims permanently lose the ability to do some things that had once brought them joy. Not only that, victims often have high medical expenses that can cause substantial financial problems after the accident.
Seeking Compensation After a Drunk Driving Accident
If you suffered serious injuries in a drunk driving accident, our drunk driving accident attorneys can help you seek compensation for your injuries. An attorney can give you a better idea of how much compensation you should pursue, depending on who caused your accident and what other factors contribute to it. Desai Law can help you learn more about your legal rights.
Seeking the Liable Party: Who Caused Your Drunk Driving Accident?
A drunk driver who caused an accident could bear the primary responsibility for the accident and any injuries that occur as a result. Typically, this means you would need to deal with the drunk driver’s insurance company as you pursue compensation for your injuries. However, sometimes other factors may contribute to an accident. For example, a bar or restaurant that served liquor to an obviously intoxicated patron could face liability if that person causes an accident.
The attorney who assists in your drunk driving accident claim may also look into the employer of a drunk driver who was on the clock at the time of the accident. Did the employer know the driver had consumed alcohol, but require him to drive anyway? Did the employer of a driver—especially a commercial driver—encourage that driver to break the law (driving too fast, for example, or exceeding the federal limit for the number of hours a driver can spend behind the wheel)?
Identifying all parties who share liability for an accident could go a long way toward increasing the compensation you may receive from your injuries. You could file a drunk driving accident claim against each party that contributed to your accident, meaning you might ultimately receive significantly more compensation than you would have if the drunk driver alone bore sole liability for the accident.
How Much Compensation Could You Expect After a Drunk Driving Accident?
Many drunk driving accident victims need a solid estimate of how much compensation they could expect from the accident. You have substantial medical bills to deal with, not to mention the loss of income that often goes along with the inability to work after a drunk driving accident. How much compensation can you count on? Will it offer enough to help you rebuild your life after a serious accident?
The compensation you receive for a drunk driving accident usually depends on several key factors.
- Who caused your accident? A private driver may carry only minimum liability auto insurance. That insurance policy could set the limits of what you can receive in compensation for an accident, including a drunk driving accident. If multiple parties contributed to your accident, it can increase the compensation you ultimately receive for your injuries. For example, if a tire blowout caused by a manufacturer’s defect caused the car to spin out of control and the drunk driver struggled to control it, that manufacturer may be added to your claim.
- How high did your medical bills grow? Medical bills can create severe financial hardship; especially for severe injuries. While a drunk driving accident claim will not force the insurance company to pay your medical bills directly, a personal injury claim could provide vitally needed compensation that would help you pay those medical bills. Medical bills typically form a foundation of a drunk driving accident claim.
- How much work did you miss? Lost wages pose a serious problem after your accident. You could include those lost wages as part of your drunk driving accident claim.
- How did the accident affect other areas of your life? By identifying the other ways in which your accident affected your life, you might want to include them in your drunk driving accident claim under pain and suffering.
Drunk Driving FAQ
Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above is 0.08 percent is illegal in Morgantown and throughout West Virginia, but that unfortunately does not stop drivers from making the reckless, tragic decision to get behind the wheel after having had a drink. In the crashes that inevitably follow, innocent Morgantown residents, workers, and visitors suffer severe, even fatal injuries.
If a drunk driving accident has caused devastation in your or a loved one’s life, then you likely have lots of pressing questions about your legal and financial rights. Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about drunk driving accidents and injuries. For answers to specific questions about a drunk driving crash that caused harm to you or a loved one, contact an experienced drunk driving accident injury lawyer at Desai Law today.
A drunk driver hit me in traffic. Can I sue?
Chances are good that you can. The best way to know for sure, however, is to speak with an experienced drunk driving accident injury lawyer.
As a general matter, in West Virginia, anyone whose careless or reckless actions cause injuries and losses to another person has a legal obligation to pay compensation for those injuries and losses. Drunk drivers who cause crashes have that sort of legal liability.
Can I sue the bar that served the drunk driver?
You may have the ability to do that, too.
Under West Virginia law, “[a]ny person injured by the violation of any statute may recover from the offender such damages as he may sustain by reason of the violation…”. It constitutes a violation of West Virginia statutes to sell alcohol to a minor, a “habitual drunkard”, someone who is intoxicated, someone who is a substance abuser, or someone who is mentally incompetent.
So, if the drunk driver who caused the crash that injured you fit any of those descriptions when the bar sold him alcohol, then you may have the right to sue the bar for the harm you suffered.
How much money can I recover if I sue?
That depends on the facts and circumstances of the crash and your injuries, as well as on the strength of your case and the parties who might owe you compensation.
Generally speaking, victims of drunk driving crashes can seek money damages to help them pay for:
- Medical expenses;
- Other expenses;
- Lost wages; and
- Pain and suffering.
The amount of money they might have the right to receive for each of these categories of damages generally depends on the severity of their injuries and the injuries’ impact on their lives.
To recover the full amount of those damages, however, drunk driving victims also need to have the strongest possible claim for damages, and for the parties who owe them compensation to have the ability to pay those damages. Hiring a skilled, experienced drunk driving accident injury lawyer puts victims in the best position to secure maximum damages.
Can I still sue if the drunk driver goes to jail?
Yes. Your rights to seek compensation for your injuries and losses after a drunk driving accident exist entirely separate from any criminal charges or penalties the drunk driver faces.
However, the fact that the drunk driver faces a criminal conviction may have an impact on when and how you seek compensation. Speak with an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.
How long does it take to receive compensation for my drunk driving accident injuries?
It varies. Sometimes an experienced lawyer can settle a drunk driving accident case in a matter of weeks or months. Other times, it may take a year or more to get the victims the money they need and deserve. And, of course, there are no guarantees of recovering compensation; that’s why it’s so important to hire a lawyer with skill and experience in fighting for the rights of drunk driving accident victims, and to do so as soon as possible.
The drunk driver’s insurance company offered me a settlement. Should I take it?
Not without first speaking with an experienced drunk driving accident injury lawyer. You have potentially valuable legal rights to compensation for your injuries and losses. Accepting a settlement offer from the drunk driver’s insurance company could cause you to lose those rights. Plus, the amount of money the insurance company offers you will virtually always fall well short of the amount the law entitles you to recover.
Always check with a skilled lawyer before saying “yes” to any settlement offer, especially one that comes out of the blue from a drunk driver’s insurance company.
How much will your drunk driving accident lawyers cost me?
It costs nothing to speak for the first time with our experienced drunk driving accident injury lawyers about your legal rights and options. That meeting is always free of charge.
Our lawyers for drunk driving accident victims also represent our clients on contingency. This means the clients do not pay us money upfront or as the case goes along. Instead, the lawyers receive a percentage of any money they secure on the clients’ behalf. In other words, the lawyers only get paid if the clients get paid.
Can I do anything to help my drunk driving accident case?
Yes. Most importantly, you can, and should, seek medical attention immediately for any injuries you suffered in a drunk driving accident, and you should follow your doctor’s advice and treatment plan.
Do this, even if you think your injuries were minor or that you will be okay. Never try to tough it out. For one thing, some extremely serious injuries may not show symptoms right away, but could threaten your life if you do not seek attention for them quickly. For another, by seeking medical care, you ensure the creation of medical records that will help to prove the connection between your injuries and the drunk driving accident. Finally, by following your doctor’s orders, you protect yourself against insurance companies and defense lawyers claiming you made your injuries worse by not taking care of yourself.
For answers to more of your questions about your rights after a drunk driving accident, contact our skilled attorneys today.
Do You Need an Attorney After a Drunk Driving Accident?
If you need a car accident attorney, contact Desai Law today. We will provide you with a free consultation that can offer a better idea of the compensation you may deserve for your injuries. Contact Desai Law today for more information on how we can help you. We know that drunk driving accidents take place around the clock, so we answer the phone 24/7. Call us at (304) 974-1974 or send us a message using our online contact page.
Desai Law, PLLC
449 Fortress Blvd
Morgantown, WV 26508