Being the passenger of a drunk driver is scary and dangerous. What if they cause a terrible accident? You could be left with bad injuries, piles of bills, and a long recovery. You might have to miss school or work for a while to undergo rehab. Thankfully, you have rights under the law. If a drunk driver hurts you, you can take legal action to make them pay for your medical treatment, therapy, lost income, and suffering.
But figuring out if you have a case, who to sue, what law applies, and how much money you can get is confusing. There are complicated rules about fault, insurance claims, court cases, and more. That’s why this article explains the key things injured passengers need to know. Regardless of whether you were fatigued and dozed off during the ride or vehemently urged a reckless drunk driver to stop, you still deserve compensation.
Who is responsible?
In the event of a crash where a drunk driver injures you, the primary question is, who is responsible?
The drunk driver chose to illegally drive while intoxicated. The intoxicated driver liability laws need to be strengthened to protect innocent victims. When they then drove dangerously and caused an accident that injured them, they failed in their duty to drive safely.
This failure means the drunk driver was negligent. Their negligence makes them liable – legally responsible – to pay you damages.
But investigators also look to see if the passenger acted irresponsibly in any way. For example, not wearing a seat belt. This is called “contributory negligence.”
If the passenger was also negligent, their compensation may be reduced based on their share of the fault.
A drunk driving injury lawyer Myrtle Beach can handle the liability analysis and advise the passengers on their rights. Figuring out who was negligent and liable is complicated but important. This determines if and how much the drunk driver must pay the injured passenger.
Getting Payment for Your Injuries and Losses
After deciding who’s legally responsible for the accident, the next step is getting paid back. As the injured passenger, you have two main options:
Insurance Claims -You can file a claim with the drunk driver’s auto insurance. All policies must include bodily personal injury claims coverage to pay medical bills and more when drivers cause harm.
Lawsuits – With the help of lawyers for drunk driving You may need to take legal action and sue the drunk driver personally if their insurance isn’t enough. This compensation often includes medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering damages.
The choice between insurance claims and a lawsuit depends on the policy payout limits and crash details. A lawyer experienced in these cases can guide you to maximize your compensation recovery.
The goal is to get adequate payment to cover all accident-related costs so you can move forward. Let an attorney handle demanding money from insurance companies or in court so you can focus on healing.
Determining Comparative Fault and Passenger Rights
In some states, injured passengers can receive partial payment even if they were also somewhat responsible for the accident. How much they get depends on their share of fault.
- The drunk driver caused the collision by speeding and is 80% at fault
- The passenger failed to wear a seat belt and is 20% at fault
- The passenger is still entitled to recover 80% of the damages
Regardless of fault, passengers have rights, including:
- A fair payment to cover all losses from the crash
- Exploring legal options after injury to get compensation
So working with an attorney is key to understanding rights despite complicated fault issues. Lawyers cut through blame disputes to secure some recovery.
The goal is to prove the drunk driver’s negligence caused the most harm while admitting any passenger faults. This puts passengers in the best position for maximum claims; funds are vital for moving lives forward.
Legal Representation and Advocacy
Getting a Lawyer to Fight for Your Rights
After a drunk driving accident leaves you injured as a passenger, things get complicated fast. You’re focused on recovering physically and emotionally. Meanwhile, you need to know the legal advice for passengers, which helps with complex legal processes, dealing with insurance companies, managing finances, meeting deadlines, and more.
During this stressful time, seeking help from an experienced personal injury lawyer is highly recommended.
Representative and advocate
Representation – The personal lawyer stands for you and speaks on your behalf. So you can rest and heal instead of wrestling with the legal system alone.
Advocacy means they aggressively fight on your behalf to secure the compensation you deserve. Dedicated lawyers:
- Thoroughly investigate accident responsibility
- Determine the damages and losses you incurred
- Identify all potential sources of payment
- File strong legal claims showing exactly how much money you are rightfully owed
- Force negligent drunk drivers and insurance companies to pay up
With an attorney guiding you each step of the way, justice has a much better chance of being served. Don’t go at it alone – injury lawyers can help tip the scales back in your favor.
Their legal counsel and advocacy skills prove invaluable in securing maximum and timely compensation.
What if I don’t know what insurance the drunk driver had?
Don’t worry; your attorney can find out for you by checking police reports, license plate records, and insurance databases. Then they pursue claims with any company covering that driver.
Will it count against me if I realize the driver was drunk?
Maybe, but probably not entirely. Laws on “contributory negligence” differ in each state. Be honest with your lawyer regarding what you saw and did as a passenger. They’ll then review everything to advise if it impacts your right to compensation – and usually, you still get something.
How long do these injury cases take?
It varies based on the details. It could be months or years. However, an experienced lawyer actively works towards a settlement with insurers when possible. This gets you money sooner while recovering, instead of waiting years for a full trial verdict.
Can I file a claim with my auto insurance after the accident?
Yes! If the drunk driver’s coverage falls way short, your policy’s uninsured or underinsured motorist protection may help pay the remaining medical bills and damages not covered otherwise. Ask your lawyer.
Dealing with the aftermath of a drunk driving accident as a passenger can disrupt your life. You’re trying to heal while facing medical expenses, school absences, lost wages from a part-time job, and emotional struggles. Pursuing financial recovery seems hard when you’re already going through so much. But don’t wait or let legal complexities overwhelm you!
Start by making a list of all your accidents, injuries, and other losses from missing school and work. Get a copy of the police report, too. Talk to any witnesses who saw the drunk driver cause the collision and take notes. Gathering this proof is important.
The lawyer will handle tricky legal processes like filing claims before deadlines, proving damages, and determining the best ways to win you money. Their expertise means you have a great shot at being paid back well for what this preventable accident cost you.
Making irresponsible drunk drivers financially accountable for their hardships is only fair. Listen to your lawyer’s advice so you can use the compensation to move forward with your life after this traumatic event. Focus on healing, and let your attorney fight for justice.