Who Pays for Damages Caused by Drunk Driving Accidents?

November 27, 2015

Drunk drivers are responsible for the wrongful death of as many as ten thousand people every year, according to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC). A third of all car accidents in this country are alcohol-related. Somebody has to pay for medical expenses, property damages as well as potential punitive damages in each of those incidents, but who?

Beware Quick Settlement Deals from Insurance Companies

No matter how nice they may seem, or how much they want to help you immediately following the accident, it is imperative that you remember that the drunk driver’s insurance company does not work for you. They want to reach a settlement deal with you quickly to bar you from pursuing a fair amount later. Insurance companies do whatever they can to pay as little as they can.

The drunk driver’s insurance is most likely to pay for your injuries, but do not be so quick to settle. There is a fair settlement amount, which will include any future medical expenses and other damages, and that first number is almost certainly not the right one.

Uninsured Drunk Drivers

There is a law in each state that requires all drivers to have some sort of liability car insurance. Unfortunately, not everyone is in compliance with that law. Drunk drivers that do not have insurance, or have insufficient insurance to cover the damages they caused, can leave you hanging.

However, many insurance policies include caveats for people injured by uninsured drivers. Check your insurance policy for Uninsured Motorist or Underinsured Motorist coverage.

Dram Shop Laws & Social Host Liability

Depending on the circumstances, you may also be able to file a lawsuit against a bar or a party host that served the drunk driver alcohol. Florida law does offer protection to businesses and hosts from liability in a drunk driving case, but there are a few exceptions. These exceptions can be particularly helpful in uninsured or underinsured driver cases.

If the intoxicated driver was served by a bartender, waiter, or party host that was aware the person had an alcohol problem and chose to serve them anyway, then they may be liable for any damages you sustain. Businesses or hosts that serve alcohol to a minor (under 21) that then causes an accident could also be held responsible for that accident.

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