Personal Injury in a Car Accident

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Your medical insurance will generally pay your bills and then will try to recover money from the driver to cover their costs. Your underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage may also kick in to help with paying your medical costs. And in some states, there are insurance pools that are designed to compensate victims of uninsured drivers or part of the driver’s sentence in his DWI case may include compensating you for your medical expense through a crime compensation board. Be sure to check with your insurance provider.

In a drunk driving case, you can be addressing both a criminal and a civil matter. The drunk driver will probably face a DUI charge and jail time, and that gives momentum to a civil case. Your attorney will be looking to settle your case at a higher value because of the DUI element. A drunken party adds a punitive damage element to your case and consequently ups the settlement value.

Your attorney most certainly can sue the driver for damages; however, since he is uninsured, it is unlikely that you will recover much unless he has other assets that you can attach – not generally a characteristic of uninsured drivers.

You should also, however, explore the possibility of pursuing what is called a “dramshop” action. In this type of action, you would bring a suit against whoever served or sold the alcohol to the driver, causing him to become intoxicated. Therefore, if the driver was at a bar and the bartender or waitress served him after he was intoxicated, the bar may be liable and the bartender or waitress may also be personally liable to you for your injuries. Not every state allows dramshop actions, so you will want to discuss with an attorney as to the law in your state.

In most dramshop cases, you will have to prove that the driver was at a particular bar, that he was clearly intoxicated, and that the bar continued to serve him alcohol. These actions are not easy to prove, but if they are allowed in your state and if it appears that the proof is there, a dramshop action may be your best avenue of recovery.

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