What Are My Rights If I’m Injured By A Drunk Driver

The State of Drunk Driving In the U.S.

Drunk and impaired driving is a serious problem in the United States. In 2013 over 10,000 people died in traffic accidents, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which was approximately one-third of all death caused by traffic accidents. In addition, drunk driving causes billions of dollars in property damage each year, and leaves many of those injured in motor vehicles accidents with debilitating physical, cognitive, and emotional injuries.

Drunk drivers can be held liable for the damages they cause

When a drunk or impaired driver causes a traffic accident in which someone is injured or killed, that driver can be held liable for the injuries and other losses they cause. The types of injuries suffered in such an accident are often catastrophic and life changing. Survivors of these crashes are likely to suffer broken bones, and may suffer loss of limbs or other trauma, including brain injuries.

Drunk driving accident victims often require emergency and long-term medical and rehabilitative care and assistance. The enhanced cost of living necessary after the accident may be recoverable from the drunk or impaired driver that caused the accident and their insurance company. Other recoverable damages might include lost earnings caused by their inability to work, or diminished earnings when their injuries render them no longer able to work and earn at the level they could before the accident. Punitive damages, which is monetary compensation meant to punish the drunk driver for the illegal acts that caused the accident, may also be available under Ohio law.

When someone dies in a drunk driving accident, their survivors and those who depended upon them for their livelihood could also have claims against the person at fault for the accident. In addition to the costs of emergency and medical assistance rendered to the decedent at the time of the accident, and funeral and burial expenses, they may be entitled to other economic and non-economic damages. These can include compensation for their mental anguish, pain and suffering, as well as the reasonable value of support, protection, guidance and nurturing the decedent would have provided had they survived.

Dram Shop Cases

In Ohio, liability for damages resulting from a drunk driving accident can extend to social gathering places such as bars, taverns and restaurants where alcohol is sold. Under the state’s “dram shop” laws, these commercial venues may be liable when it can be shown that they continued serving alcohol to a person showing signs of visible intoxication who was later involved in a traffic accident.

Dram shop liability can generally be established in a thorough investigation following a serious or deadly drunk driving crash. This is of paramount importance in cases where the driver has no or insufficient insurance, since dram defendants who share responsibility for the damages caused are more likely than not to have insurance policies with higher coverage limits. While dram shop cases can be difficult to prove in some instances, the probability of recovery of compensation for damages may be increased when responsibility can be shown through direct and circumstantial evidence.