When intoxicated drivers get behind the wheel, they not only put their own lives at risk, but the lives and well-being of everyone else on the road. Yet drunk driving remains a huge problem in our society. And far too often, innocent victims have to fight insurance companies to get a fair settlement.
If you or someone you loved one was injured by a drunk driver, or your loved one was killed in a drunk driving accident, the Karl Truman Law Office can help. You might think you don’t need an attorney when fault seems so clear, but in most cases nothing could be further from the truth.
Drunk Driving Accident Victims Deserve Fair Compensation. Too Often, They Don’t Get It.
If a drunk driver hit you and caused your injuries, you might think you have a rock-solid legal case. After all, how could the insurance company or a jury reasonably deny that a drunk driver caused your accident?
Unfortunately, it’s rarely that simple. At Karl Truman Law Office, we work with clients all the time who have been mistreated by insurance companies.
For example, we represented a bicyclist who was severely injured when he was hit by a drunk driver. Even though the driver was arrested for drunk driving, his insurance company still denied the claim. To get the bicyclist the compensation and accountability he deserved, our lawyers had to file a lawsuit and take the insurance company to court.
The insurance company does not have your best interests at heart. They are focused on saving money for themselves, so they’ll look for any way they can to reduce any potential settlement. This might include tactics such as:
- Getting you to admit a share of the fault. In both Kentucky and Indiana, your settlement can be reduced by your percentage of fault. Innocent statements or admissions you make could be used against you in order to unfairly assign at least some of the blame to you.
- Undervaluing your injury claim. Even if the insurance company agrees that their driver was at fault, they’ll still try to nickel and dime you by undervaluing your future treatment needs and medical bills, wage losses, and pain and suffering. And they certainly won’t mention the possibility of punitive damages.
If you aren’t prepared for the insurance company’s tactics, it’s easy to end up making simple mistakes that could damage your claim, or accepting a settlement offer for far less than you truly need and deserve.
How an Attorney Can Help Drunk Driving Accident Victims
An experienced attorney can help you with your drunk driving accident case in many important ways, including:
- Fully investigating the details of the accident to determine who was at fault, and any applicable sources of insurance coverage. For example, in addition to filing a claim against the drunk driver, you may also be able to file a claim against a bar or restaurant that knowingly overserved them.
- Working with doctors, economists, and other experts to accurately calculate the amount of compensation you deserve.
- Pursuing punitive damages. Because drunk driving often shows reckless disregard for others, punitive damages (which are meant to punish wrongdoers) may be available in these cases. However, these situations are relatively rare and frequently complicated, so how much you can potentially receive (if any) depends greatly on the knowledge, experience, and persuasiveness of your attorney.
- Handling all aspects of your legal case and insurance negotiations on your behalf, so you can focus on getting better.
The Dangers of Drunk Driving
Drunk or drugged driving is an inherently reckless act. However, in spite of laws against drunk driving and massive public awareness campaigns, it continues to be a problem across the country.
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 10,000 people are killed every year in the United States in drunk driving accidents. Here in Kentucky and Indiana, a total of 448 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents involving a drunk driver in 2020.
Though a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 is the legal limit, judgment, reaction time, awareness, and visual acuity are all negatively impacted before you are legally considered to be driving under the influence. As a result, a number of serious accidents may occur when drivers drink or use drugs, including:
- Head-on collisions
- T-bone accidents
- Sideswipe crashes
- Accidents involving excess speed
- Rear-end accidents
- Accidents caused by running a red light or stop sign
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
What Should You Do After an Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver?
Your first priority after a serious car accident is to receive medical attention for your injuries. If you are treated and released at the scene, take time to photograph the accident site, exchange information with the driver, and speak to witnesses. Then, see your doctor or visit the emergency room as soon as possible.
If you interact with the at-fault driver after the accident, you may notice signs of possible impairment. These could include:
- Slurred speech
- Bloodshot or glassy eyes
- Blank or dazed expression
- Stumbling, swaying, and difficulty standing
- Difficulty with fine motor skills
- Red or flushed appearance to the face
You may also smell alcohol on the driver’s breath or see open alcohol containers on the seat or the floor of the car.
When the police respond to the scene of the accident, be sure to inform the officer what you observed. The officer may conduct a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test to determine if the at-fault driver is impaired. The results of these tests should be included in the police report of the accident, as well as any tickets issued or arrests made.
Obtaining a copy of the police report is a key part of investigating your drunk driving accident claim. You can request a copy from the police on your own or contact a lawyer for assistance.
It is important to understand that any legal claim you pursue against the at-fault driver is entirely separate from DUI and other charges the driver may face. If the driver is charged with DUI, that is a matter for criminal court. Your personal injury claim, on the other hand, is a civil matter.
How Much Is My Drunk Driving Accident Case Worth?
Any car accident can result in life-altering injuries or, worst of all, death. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to compensation for the following after a drunk driving accident:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Loss of potential earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of consortium (benefits of a relationship)
- Punitive damages
If you lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident, our lawyers can pursue damages in a wrongful death claim on your behalf. You may be entitled to compensation for the loss of your loved one’s income, funeral and burial or cremation costs, and more.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage and Drunk Driving Accidents
Kentucky has instituted a no-fault law for car accidents. Even in cases where the accident was caused by the other driver’s intoxication, you must first file a PIP claim through your own insurance company for coverage of the expenses related to your drunk driving accident injuries. If your medical expenses exceed the statutory threshold ($1,000) or you suffer broken bones, permanent impairment, or permanent disfigurement as a result of the accident, you can file a claim against the drunk driver.
Indiana is not a no-fault state. You are not required to go through your own insurance before you can file suit against the impaired driver.
Who Is Responsible for Drunk Driving Accidents?
The most obvious at-fault party in any drunk driving accident case is the intoxicated driver. However, the driver may not be the only one that can be held accountable for your injuries.
As noted above, a sober driver might share some of the blame if they also contributed to the accident. For example, if you were also speeding or failed to check for other vehicles, a court may apportion some of the blame to you as well.
Further, both Kentucky and Indiana have enacted what are known as “dram shop laws.” These laws allow people who have been injured by drunk drivers to sue the establishment that served them.
Dram Shop Law in Kentucky
Kentucky law provides for limited circumstances in which a person who is hurt in a drunk driving accident can sue the bar, restaurant, or other vendor. Liability is contingent upon proving that the vendor served the driver when a “reasonable person under the same or similar circumstances should know that the person served is already intoxicated at the time of serving.”
Dram Shop Law in Indiana
In Indiana, the dram shop law allows people who are harmed by a drunk driver to take action against the person or business that “furnishes” alcohol if the following criteria are met:
- “[T]he person furnishing the alcoholic beverage had actual knowledge that the person to whom the alcoholic beverage was furnished was visibly intoxicated at the time the alcoholic beverage was furnished; and
- “[T]he intoxication of the person to whom the alcoholic beverage was furnished was a proximate cause of the death, injury, or damage alleged in the complaint.”
“Furnish” means not only to sell alcohol, but to provide it free of charge. Thus, in Indiana, social hosts (i.e., someone throwing a party at their home) may be liable if they serve alcohol to a guest who is visibly intoxicated, and that guest subsequently injures someone in an accident.
Contact Our Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers Today
Drunk driving accidents are completely preventable. Unfortunately, they happen every day, often resulting in serious injuries that can change the lives of victims forever.
At the Karl Truman Law Office, we are committed to holding drunk drivers accountable, pursuing the full compensation you and your family are entitled to, and helping you achieve the peace of mind you deserve. If you were injured or you lost a family member in a drunk driving accident, you can count on our team to take action on your behalf against the impaired driver for the physical, emotional, and financial burdens you and your loved ones are facing.
Contact the Karl Truman Law Office today for a free consultation. Our lawyers serve the victims of drunk driving accidents in Louisville and nearby areas of Kentucky (call (502) 222-2222) and in Jeffersonville and surrounding areas of Indiana (call (812) 282-8500).
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (April 2022). Traffic Safety Facts 2020 Data: Alcohol Impaired Driving. DOT HS 813 294. Retrieved from https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813294
Kentucky Revised Statutes 413.241
Indiana Code 7.1-5-10-15.5
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.