What Happens to my Personal Injury Claim if the At-Fault Driver is Cited for DWI?
Thousands of drunk driving accidents occur in North Carolina each year, many of which are fatal. If you were injured by a drunk driver, you may deal with the injuries from your accident for the rest of your life. Victims and their families often feel uncertainty about their futures after a car accident, and one involving a drunk driver can bring with it a lot more questions and uncertainty. Here are some common questions injured people have after a drunk driving collision.
What happens to my claim if a drunk driver is underinsured?
Drunk drivers often cause damages that far exceed what their insurance policies will pay for. The minimum coverage limits for insurance policies in North Carolina is:
- $30,000 of bodily injury coverage per person
- $60,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident
- $25,000 of property damage coverage per accident
Because of the high speeds, erratic behavior, and delayed response time involved in drunk driving accidents, injuries tend to be more severe than accidents that do not involve alcohol. Severe injuries may require life-saving treatment, emergency surgery, intensive care, and weeks or months of physical therapy – all of which can quickly exceed the drunk driver’s insurance policy limits. This leaves many injured people asking how they can pay their remaining medical bills after an accident.
Many victims have one or two options at this point: Medical payments (MedPay) or Personal Injury Protection coverage is a part of many insurance policies. If you have MedPay, the policy will pay a certain amount of your medical bills and the medical bills of anyone riding in your car when an accident occurs. This can help with some of your bills while you’re waiting for your settlement.
In addition, you may be able to recover the balance of your damages from your own insurance company if you have underinsured motorist coverage on your policy. However, you will have to settle your claim with the at-fault insurer first and then provide your insurance company with documentation that your claim exceeded the at-fault driver’s policy.
Should I take my drunk driving accident case to trial?
Even people who have MedPay and Underinsured Motorist coverage on their own insurance policies may still be left with significant medical debt. In these cases or in cases where there is no MedPay or UIM, the only way to recover is to file suit against the drunk driver personally. If you win a judgment against the drunk driver, they may be required to pay you from the sale of their assets.
In certain cases, you may be able to file suit against several people in your drunk driving accident case. In North Carolina, it is against the law for businesses, bars, restaurants, or even private party hosts to sell or serve alcohol to someone who is intoxicated. Under North Carolina Dram Shop laws, the person or establishment who knowingly serves an intoxicated person can be liable for damages they cause if they are involved in a car accident. This may allow you to collect from commercial insurance policies or from a party host’s homeowners’ insurance. This could significantly reduce your medical debt and compensate you for your lost wages or other expenses resulting from your injuries.
Contact an Asheville Drunk Driving Accident Attorney for Help
Every stage of a drunk driving accident case is complex, whether it’s dealing with insurance companies or filing a North Carolina dram shop lawsuit. People who are coping with catastrophic injuries may find it especially difficult to get the money they need. Our firm has the experience, knowledge, and resources you will need in the fight to get compensation after a drunk driving accident. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation, where we will evaluate your case and develop a plan to move forward.
Related topics from our blog:
- When is a bar liable for its drunk customers?
- What is Contributory Negligence?
- All about car accident insurance coverage
- Who is responsible for paying my medical bills after a crash?
- 5 questions you should ask your personal injury attorney