When you’re in a car accident, you’re filled with a range of emotions: fear, pain, confusion, even anger. When the other person is drunk, it’s even worse. You have every right to be outraged when someone should’ve known better, and you are entitled to compensation for your injuries.
You have options, but you will likely need help getting the maximum award for your injuries and damages. Learn your options if you’ve been hit by a drunk driver, what you can do to get compensated for your injuries, and how a car accident attorney can help.
The Drunk Driving Epidemic
Thousands of people every year are severely injured or even killed in a car accident involving a drunk driver. In fact, accidents related to alcohol amount to almost 33 percent of all incidents across the nation annually. The problem is truly an epidemic, which is sad considering the range of knowledge we have about drunk driving now.
Criminal vs. Civil Law
Vehicular accidents involving alcohol are unique and different than the vast majority of other car accidents. This is because a normal accident involves merely a case between two drivers, one of whom may be ruled to pay for the damages caused to the other.
Drunk driving, however, involves a crime. When you are hurt by a drunk driver, you can pursue compensation, but there will also be a criminal case involved. Your civil case is distinct and separate from the criminal charges.
Types of Award when Hit by a Drunk Driver
There are a few general types of damages that may be awarded in a drunk driving case. These are special damages, general damages, and punitive damages. These types of compensation break down as follows:
Special damages involve the expected coverage for your medical expenses, doctor’s bills, medication, therapy, lost wages and income and demonstrable, quantifiable economic losses.
General damages include more subjective losses, including pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of companionship or relationships and the like. These can be more difficult to put a number on.
Punitive damages are only available in very severe cases where the other driver was found to be acting in an egregiously reckless manner—often they are awarded in cases where a death is involved. Their purpose is to punish the driver who caused the accident.
The first thing to remember when seeking a settlement in a drunk driving case is to never sign anything without first talking to a qualified car accident attorney. The insurance company will likely do everything they can to minimize the amount of money they have to pay out, which can involve all sorts of tactics from trying to confuse you about what you’re signing, to minimizing or nullifying your claim outright.
The best way to battle these tactics is with the help of a qualified and experienced car accident attorney. If you find yourself in such a situation, you don’t have to go it alone. Call upon the Chattanooga auto accident attorneys at the McMahan Law Firm and receive a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case today.