Unfortunately, drunk driving continues to be a severe problem throughout the United States. Passenger vehicle drivers are legally intoxicated if a breathalyzer device measures their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at 0.08 percent or higher.
Commercial vehicle drivers, as well as minors who are under 21 years of age, must usually follow stricter legal standards, depending on the jurisdiction.
The dangers associated with drinking and driving are relatively straightforward. Alcohol can severely affect a driver’s ability to drive carefully and safely. First, alcohol intoxication may lead to specific physical symptoms, including dizziness, blurred vision, and nausea.
As a result, a driver may not even see a pedestrian or another vehicle in the vicinity before causing a crash. In addition, drinking and driving may limit a driver’s concentration and significantly delay their reaction time. The driver may not hit their brakes in time to avoid a crash or even notice a crash was about to happen.
In many states, including both Illinois and Indiana, restaurants, bars, and other commercial establishments may be fully or partially responsible if they serve a patron more alcohol when they are already visibly intoxicated – and the patron later causes a motor vehicle crash that leads to physical injuries.
If you sustained injuries in a recent drunk driving accident, you may be eligible to recover monetary compensation for your injuries and other losses. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer in your area can meet with you to discuss the circumstances of your accident and determine your eligibility for filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Also, your attorney can ascertain all potentially responsible parties in your case and bring the necessary claim or lawsuit against them. Finally, your lawyer can handle all settlement negotiations with insurance companies on your behalf or litigate your case in the court system for a prompt and efficient resolution. Reach out to a car accident lawyer.
Drunk Driving Car Accidents
When a driver gets behind the wheel after having too much to drink, they will likely drive erratically and potentially cause a severe motor vehicle crash.
Some of the most common types of accidents that drunk drivers cause include:
- Head-on collisions, where the intoxicated driver crosses over a double center line or concrete median strip and strikes the front of another vehicle directly, often causing permanent injuries and fatalities
- Rear-end car crashes, where a drunk driver negligently causes the front of their vehicle to hit the back of another vehicle
- Sideswipe accidents, where a drunk driver negligently veers over into another travel lane, hitting the side of another vehicle
- T-bone or broadside accidents, where the front of a drunk driver’s vehicle hits the side of another car, usually where the drunk driver fails to yield the right-of-way at a traffic intersection stop sign, yield sign, or red traffic signal
If you suffered injuries in one of these accidents that a drunk driver caused, you might be eligible to take legal action against the drunk driver and/or a restaurant, bar, or other commercial establishments that continuously served the driver alcohol earlier in the day.
A car accident attorney in your area can review your legal options with you and help you take the appropriate legal actions in your case.
Potential Injuries in Drunk Driving Crashes
The injuries that drunk driving accident victims suffer are often extraordinarily debilitating and may affect an accident victim for the rest of their life. These complications are prevalent if a drunk driving accident happens at a high rate of speed. Drunk drivers frequently lose control of their vehicles and may cause a single crash or a series of collisions, resulting in debilitating injuries.
Likewise, the specific circumstances surrounding the accident, including how the victim’s body moves in their vehicle, may affect the injuries that the accident victim ultimately suffers.
Some of the most common injuries that drunk driving accident victims sustain include:
- Bruises from airbag deployment
- Open lacerations that require numerous stitches
- Bone fractures
- Rib fractures
- Soft tissue whiplash injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Full or partial paralysis injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Internal organ damage
The best way to ensure a full recovery from your accident-related injuries whenever possible is to seek ongoing medical care and treatment, while your attorney focuses on the legal components of your case. Your lawyer can promptly begin investigating the circumstances of your drunk driving accident while you focus on improving.
Specifically, your attorney can obtain copies of police and other investigation reports and witness statements. They can also gather information about the drunk driver’s whereabouts immediately before your accident. Once you complete your medical treatment, your attorney can file the appropriate personal injury claim and pursue the monetary recovery you deserve for your drunk driving accident injuries.
Dram Shop Liability Laws in Indiana
The dram shop liability laws in Indiana are similar to those in Illinois.
Specifically, a dram shop violation in Indiana occurs when:
- A commercial establishment furnishes one or more alcoholic beverages to an individual who appears visibly intoxicated when the establishment provides the beverage
- The person’s intoxication is the proximate cause of the property damage, physical injury, or untimely death of another individual
A car accident victim must establish these two legal elements to recover monetary compensation against a commercial establishment under the Dram Shop Law. If they successfully satisfy their legal burden of proof, they can recover monetary compensation, in the form of damages, from the at-fault commercial establishment.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim or Lawsuit
To recover monetary compensation from a drunk driver’s insurance company – or a commercial establishment’s insurer under the state dram shop law – you or your lawyer must first file a claim.
When your attorney files a personal injury claim on your behalf, they typically include several documents, including a settlement demand letter. That letter will demand monetary compensation within the available limits of insurance coverage.
Your lawyer can also include documents necessary to prove your case, including camera or security footage from the commercial establishment, police reports, investigation reports, medical treatment records, medical bills, and lost income documents.
Next, your attorney can assist you throughout the process of negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Insurance companies are routinely challenging to deal with and try to settle personal injury claims and lawsuits for as little monetary compensation as possible. After all, insurance companies do not want to have to pay out significant settlements, jury verdicts, or binding arbitration awards. Instead, they want to save themselves as much money as possible.
Your attorney can pinpoint the strengths of your case and bring those strengths up during settlement negotiations. Settlement negotiations typically proceed back and forth, with the accident victim’s attorney gradually lowering their initial settlement demand while the insurance company gradually increases its offer. If the case settles at some point along the way, it will end and not proceed to a civil jury trial or other legal proceeding.
However, if the parties cannot agree and do not settle their case out of court, the accident victim’s attorney may need to file a lawsuit in state court. After this point, the case may still settle; however, the parties will typically need to follow court-imposed deadlines in the case so that it resolves in a timely manner. For example, the parties will typically need to take part in the discovery process.
During discovery, the parties will ask one another written questions, called Interrogatories, about:
- The circumstances surrounding the accident
- The drunk driver’s whereabouts immediately prior to the accident
- The amount of alcohol that the drunk driver imbibed at the commercial establishment before the accident
- The circumstances surrounding the accident
- The injuries that resulted
- The medical treatment that the accident victim underwent
- The effects of the accident on the victim’s life
In addition to written discovery, the defense attorney in the case may take the accident victim’s discovery deposition.
Questions at a discovery deposition are similar to the written Interrogatories, except they are more detailed. Following deposition, the insurance company may increase its most recent settlement offer and try to resolve the case out of court. However, if that does not happen, the parties might need to take their case to a civil jury trial or binding arbitration hearing for resolution.
At a civil jury trial, the jury resolves all remaining issues in the case, including monetary compensation and damages. However, a binding arbitration proceeding takes place outside of court, and a neutral arbitrator decides the issue of damages.
A skilled car accident attorney in your area can help you decide on the best course of action for your case and help you maximize the total monetary recovery you receive for your car accident injuries.
Recovering Monetary Damages From a Drunk Driving Car Crash
If you suffered injuries in a drunk driving accident, you might be eligible to recover various types of monetary damages from several insurance companies, including the insurer for a commercial establishment that served the at-fault driver alcohol.
The total monetary damages you may recover will depend on the severity of your injuries, the total cost of your medical treatment, and other circumstances surrounding your accident.
Common monetary damages in drunk driving car accident cases include compensation for:
- Past and anticipated medical costs
- Mental distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of earning capacity
- Lost income
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of the ability to use a body part (such as from paralysis)
- Loss of spousal companionship and consortium
Your lawyer should do everything possible to help you maximize the monetary settlement or litigation result you obtain in your case. This includes negotiating with multiple insurers at once to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Call a Car Accident Attorney Near You About Your Situation Right Away
If you suffered injuries in a drunk driving car accident, you should retain skilled legal counsel as quickly as you can. Accident victims in Indiana and Illinois only had two years from their accident date to file a lawsuit seeking monetary recovery.
If they file their lawsuit beyond the statute of limitations, the courts will prevent them from recovering any monetary damages for their accident-related losses. Therefore, the sooner you involve a personal injury attorney in your case, the higher your chances of recovering a favorable monetary award.
Your lawyer can investigate the circumstances of your drunk driving accident and ascertain the identity of all potentially responsible parties. Your lawyer can then pursue a legal claim or file a lawsuit on your behalf, seeking the full monetary compensation you deserve. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.
Your lawyer will join you every step of the way, aggressively fighting for your legal interests and working to maximize your total monetary recovery in the case.