According to 2014 data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 28 Americans die every single day in car accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers. That amounts to approximately one death every 53 minutes. We, as a nation, spend an incredible amount of money on drunk drivers. The annual, nationwide cost of alcohol-related car crashes totals more than $44 billion, in fact.
We all know the risks of driving behind the wheel impaired, yet we all have that one friend, coworker, neighbor, or relative who will have a few drinks then start up their car thinking they’re fine to drive. Most of the time, nothing unfortunate happens, but other times—as the statistics above would prove—the effects of alcohol can take their toll.
Being involved in a serious car accident with a drunk driver can seem like an impossibly overwhelming situation. If you or a loved one has been in a car accident with a drunk driver, you need the help of a Louisville, KY drunk driving accident lawyer. First, let’s go over your rights and how the laws are defined in the state of Kentucky.
Understanding Your Legal Rights
In a “no-fault” auto insurance state like Kentucky, insurance matters are handled similarly to most other types of accidents. What may differ is how the accident report and any possible legal proceedings are handled afterwards.
Whether or not the drunk driver caused the accident, they will be charged with a DUI. Even if the accident itself wasn’t caused by the act of driving while intoxicated, there’s no denying the fact that alcohol and drugs can both significantly impair our senses and reaction times. Depending on the drunk driver’s driving history and how intoxicated they were at the time of the accident, criminal charges may be filed against the impaired driver.
Any criminal charges which are filed remain completely separate from any civil lawsuits which may additionally be filed after a devastating car accident. If you were involved in a serious accident with a chemically-impaired driver, you have a legal right to file a civil lawsuit against the drunk driver. Doing so allows you to potentially receive compensation to help you pay your medical bills, recover the costs of any lost wages, and pay any other expenses which may be related to pain or suffering experienced.
In a no-fault state such as Kentucky, establishing blame for the accident isn’t as important as in other states which are based off establishing negligence. Despite being in a no-fault state, however, you may find that your auto insurance isn’t enough to pay for the full costs of your medical bills as well as any lost wages or additional expenses. This is when it may be beneficial for you to consider filing a civil lawsuit against the impaired driver. Establishing blame becomes important in a civil suit in this case, especially when alcohol is a contributing factor.
If, unfortunately, you are a family member or spouse of someone who lost their life in an accident against a drunk driver, you would also have a right to file a civil case against the other driver. This is what we call a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits provide compensation to a loved one on behalf of someone who has lost their life in a terrible accident or incident. This compensation can go towards medical bills, funeral costs, pain/suffering, or other potential lost funds.
Taking Action into Your Own Hands
Filing a lawsuit against a drunk driver after being involved in a serious accident can enable you to pay your medical bills and recover from injuries, but you may also receive peace of mind in another way—by knowing that you did everything you could to ensure the roads stay safer. Oftentimes, people who tend to drink and drive do so because they are never caught or feel that something bad will never happen to them. When something bad does happen to them and they are forced to pay the price, they tend to develop a new outlook. Sometimes, a new outlook saves lives.
If you or someone you love was involved in a serious car accident against a drunk or otherwise intoxicated driver, you may be eligible to file a civil lawsuit against that driver. Louisville, KY drunk driving accident lawyer Tad Thomas and his team at Thomas Law Offices can answer any questions you may have and walk you through the filing process step by step. Contact our Louisville office for more information or a free case evaluation.