Many auto accidents happen due to drivers who make the conscious decision to drive after they have consumed alcohol beyond the legal limits – DWI. These accidents are not always the total fault of the intoxicated driver, but the fact that a driver was impaired can still significantly impact the outcome of personal injury claims. Multiple vehicle accidents are especially subject to liability deflection among drivers because they can be difficult to unravel in the reconstruction process. So, who do you sue for damages? The short answer to this question is anyone who may be liable after evaluating material case evidence regarding how the accident occurred.
Accident reconstruction officers basically map what actually happened using certain information gathered at the scene, but they do not necessarily determine fault. Liability is ultimately determined at trial if the legal representatives and insurance companies do not come to an agreement beforehand. All drivers receive a comparative negligence percentage assignment, and due to the North Carolina pure contributory negligence law, drivers who even have 1% of fault may not have a legal recourse for financial compensation for their injuries. This law even includes when an opposing driver was driving while impaired. However, drivers with zero fault assessment and all passengers will typically have a claim against all negligent parties in pursuing whole damages.
All Evidence Matters in a DWI Case
Once fault percentages are determined and a drunk driver is included, a DWI accident lawyer can begin acquiring any additional evidence that will help their client’s case. Any percentage of fault for a driver will make them liable for damages to that extent. One of the most important articles of evidence in a DWI driver accident is where an impaired driver became intoxicated. If there is material evidence that an establishment where alcohol is served has continued to serve the impaired driver beyond the legal limit, injured victims could have an additional lawsuit against the business. Additionally, social hosts may be liable in the same manner when the impaired driver has been to a private social event.
Suing the Drunk Driver
While all drivers who are assigned liability may be subject to a claim, a drunk driver is of particular interest because they can also be sued for punitive damages for excessive violation of the law. This is especially important if they are the dominant or sole responsible driver. Insurance companies are not necessarily liable for paying punitive damages because the award can easily exceed the amount of auto liability insurance coverage the drunk driver carries. The standard claim elements regarding medical bills, lost wages when the victim cannot work, and general damages for ongoing problems stemming from the accident often hit the upper limits of the insurance company’s responsibility under the policy. Punitive damage awards generally require a trial presented by a DWI accident lawyer unless the potential award can be factored into any prior settlement with the DWI driver’s insurance.
Accident adjudications that indicate vicarious liability for an establishment or a social host can result in an additional lawsuit. This claim will focus on what transpired before the drunk driver left the event or establishment. The amount of alcohol consumed before getting into the vehicle can be central to the claim if the business management or social host was aware the impaired patron was being served beyond legal limits. Mitigating factors that can impact this claim include the amount of elapsed time from when they left the establishment or event and any additional evidence of continued alcohol or drug consumption during that time.
Contact Our Law Firm
Obtaining whole damages following a drunk driving / driving while impaired accident always requires aggressive and comprehensive representation by a DWI accident victim lawyer who understands how to craft a solid case against all negligent actors in the incident. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with an impaired driver, call our office and let us put our experience to work for you.