No one can say that they did not know driving under the influence is an incredibly dangerous act.
The safety message(s), harrowing statistics, and grim examples of lives impacted by drunk driving accidents have long been pushed to the forefront for public consumption. In short, there is no excuse for drunk driving.
Unfortunately, despite ongoing education and the best efforts of government and advocacy groups, Boulton Law Group continues to help Indiana accident victims and/or their families who were injured or otherwise affected by drunk driving.
Among the many questions and emotions experienced by victims of alcohol-related accidents, we are often asked if a personal injury case is worth more because it involves a drunk driver. Given the circumstances, it is a logical and fair question.
Will I Receive More Money Because I Was Hit by a Drunk Driver?
One of the big questions on the mind of every accident victim eventually becomes: How much is my case worth?
That can be a difficult question to answer for cases that are seemingly straightforward, however, when you add factors such as being hit by a drunk driver, it has the potential to become even more complex for accident victims.
We have consulted with a number of Hoosiers hit by drunk drivers who believed because the defendant was intoxicated, that person’s insurance company should be forced to pay more.
In other words, some people feel the more despicable the act, the more valuable their case should be.
In truth, while it is possible that a victim could receive more money because of the defendant’s intoxication, it is not a guarantee.
Below are two examples to help explain further:
Example 1: Lisa is rear-ended at a stoplight and sustains whiplash. The police investigation determines that the defendant driver was intoxicated and arrested for DUI.
Lisa’s injuries require physical therapy and cause her to miss work, however, she makes a full recovery from her soft tissue injuries and suffers no residual effects.
In this example, it is highly unlikely that Lisa’s case will be worth more due to the fact that the defendant was intoxicated at the time of the collision.
Example 2: Jerry is driving home late in the evening when a car crosses the center lane and strikes him head-on. It is found that the driver who crossed the center line had been drinking heavily at a local bar and was intoxicated at the time of the crash.
Jerry’s sustained traumatic injuries in the collision, including multiple broken bones and a traumatic brain injury. His injuries required weeks of hospitalization, multiple surgeries, and months of ongoing care therapy to overcome his physical and cognitive injuries.
Due to the nature of his injuries and total medical bills, the defendant’s insurance policy and Jerry’s underinsured policy were quickly exceeded.
However, because the defendant was found to have an excessive BAC, Jerry’s attorney was able to uncover evidence that led to a dramshop case against the local bar where the defendant had been drinking.
The facts of this particular drunk driving case resulted in a larger sum of money being available for Jerry’s recovery, thus increasing the value of his case.
No single factor of an accident can be used to determine the entire value of a personal injury claim, including whether or not the fact that the defendant was intoxicated.
Instead, the overall case value of a drunk driving accident case will often be determined by a combination of several factors, including:
- The total of a person’s medical bills
- Lost wages that resulted from the accident
- Pain and suffering
- Percentage of fault placed on the drivers involved
Attorney Matt Boulton carefully evaluates every drunk driving accident claim to determine the types of strategies and investigations that may be required to help ensure our clients receive full and fair compensation for their injuries.
Proving a Drunk Driver is at Fault for the Accident
While many drunk driving accidents are eventually proven to be the fault of the intoxicated driver, you should never assume that liability is guaranteed simply due to the fact that the other driver was under the influence.
For example, if an intoxicated driver was rear-ended at a stoplight, just because they had been drinking before the accident and are in violation of Indiana law, it will have no effect on liability. That said, the drunk driver will still be subject to arrest for DUI.
In fact, to seek compensation for your injuries, Indiana law states that you must prove your liability for the accident does not exceed 50%, even when the collision involves a drunk driver.
Once liability with a drunk driver has been established, it must then be proven that the crash is responsible for your injuries and that you suffered either a personal or financial loss.
Ultimately, in the majority of drunk driving accident cases, the other driver’s level of intoxication or BAC will not be relevant to your financial recovery. Instead, it is typically only used as evidence to further solidify liability.
Will A Jury Learn About The Defendant’s DUI/DWI?
In most instances, including claims involving drunk drivers, Boulton Law Group is able to settle our clients’ cases for full and fair compensation without the need for a courtroom or jury.
However, if attorney Boulton believes that your case would be better served by filing a lawsuit and taking it to court, he is prepared to do so.
With that in mind, it must be remembered that the insurance company will come prepared and looking to leverage tactics they believe will reduce the amount they have to pay for their insured’s negligence.
Part of their strategy may include working to exclude different types of evidence. In cases where their insured was found to be intoxicated, they may aim to omit this fact entirely and focus exclusively on the actual damages.
Attorney Boulton is acutely familiar with Indiana law and insurance company defense tactics. His experience and knowledge in these types of cases help to counter the insurance company’s strategies, all in an effort to ensure our client receives maximum compensation for their injuries and losses.
Were You Hit By a Drunk Driver?
If you were hit and injured by a drunk driver, their intoxication does not guarantee that the insurance company will offer you maximum compensation. These accidents will face many of the same challenges as collisions that do not involve an intoxicated driver.
Before giving a recorded statement or signing any documents, we recommend that you consult with an experienced Indianapolis personal injury attorney.
Attorney Matt Boulton has more than 20 years’ experience helping injured Hoosiers, including car accident cases that involve drunk drivers. If you have questions about your potential case, you can contact Matt directly for free, friendly legal advice.
Boulton Law Group also offers Indiana accident victims a Zero Fee Guarantee. This promise means that you will never pay for a legal consultation, and the only time our firm receives payment is after we win your case.
To receive your free consultation, call 317-350-2680. If you prefer to write to us, please use our confidential contact form. Matt personally reviews all website contacts received at our firm.
Attorney Matt Boulton is an award-winning personal injury attorney with more than 20 years of experience helping seriously injured people throughout Indiana reclaim what was taken from them. His firm was created for for the client who expects exceptional service and passionate, successful legal representation.