When you’ve been involved in a serious car accident, the emotional and physical toll can be overwhelming, and this stress can be compounded to a large degree when your accident has involved a drunk driver. Accidents caused by someone driving under the influence often result in serious injuries and significant medical bills, meaning you need to find some way to recover from your injuries and move on with your life.
If you’ve been in an accident like this, it can be hard to know what your next move should be. That’s why we’ve put together a guide detailing what you can do if you’ve been in an accident with a drunk driver in New Jersey.
File a Lawsuit Against the Driver
Drunk driving is illegal, so the driver who hit you will likely face criminal charges for driving under the influence of alcohol. What you may not realize, though, is that you may not necessarily be awarded compensation for damages through the criminal trial. That’s why it’s important to also file a civil claim against the driver for any losses you incurred as a result of the accident.
If you can definitively prove that the driver in your case was legally intoxicated, then you may be able to win the substantial claim that you need to move on with your life. Although you legally have the right to represent yourself, it’s going to be in your best interest to work with an attorney when it comes to filing a lawsuit. We have the expertise and experience necessary to fight for the maximum amount of compensation for you and your family.
What If The Drunk Driver Was Uninsured?
Despite car insurance being legally required in the state of New Jersey, a surprising number of drunk driving accidents involve a driver that does not have insurance coverage. If this is the case for your wreck, you have a couple of options.
File an Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Claim
Underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage is an optional add-on to your car insurance that exists for cases like this where the driver who hit you does not have adequate coverage, if any at all, to pay for damages. This insurance option provides a safety net so that you aren’t left to pay for everything yourself after an accident if the at-fault driver does not have insurance. Typically, underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage will pay for the same losses as regular car insurance including medical bills, car repairs, loss of income, and more.
The key thing to note, however, is you must have underinsured or uninsured coverage prior to an accident, so we recommend adding it onto your insurance plan as soon as possible. You don’t want to be caught in a situation where you’ve been severely injured by a drunk driver and you’re also left to pay for every bill that follows the accident.
File a Suit Against the Bar or Restaurant
If you’ve been hit by a driver who doesn’t have insurance and you don’t have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, your next best legal option may be to bring a suit against the bar or restaurant that over-served the driver.
New Jersey is one of the many states in the country that has laws that can hold bars and restaurants liable for over-serving its patrons. This is called a “dram shop law”. If you’re planning on filing a suit against a restaurant or bar in New Jersey, you should be aware of two of the most important criteria that must be met to be eligible to file a lawsuit. An individual can seek damages from a bar or restaurant who served the at-fault driver alcohol if:
- the intoxicated individual was “visibly intoxicated” when served, or
- the vendor knew or reasonably should have known the person being served was under age 21
If your situation meets these criteria, you should get in touch with a car accident attorney like Attorney Peter Davis to discuss your options.
Don’t Settle Too Early
In accidents involving a drunk driver, fault is almost always pretty cut and dry. Because of this, it’s common for the insurance company to offer you a quick settlement. Although this may seem like a good thing, it’s almost always an attempt to offer you a lower payout than you deserve. We recommend that you don’t accept the first settlement offer, especially without consulting your lawyer.
When you receive a settlement, you should make sure to have it examined by a car accident attorney to ensure their offer is appropriate based on your losses. An experienced attorney will be able to tell you if a settlement is worth accepting or if you should wait for a better offer.
Attorney Peter N. Davis May Be Able to Help
Any car accident is scary, but being hit by a drunk driver who’s out of control, can be one of the most trying times of your life. These incidents often result in significant injuries, or worse. You should never be responsible for paying for medical bills, car repairs, or other burdens that are a direct result of an accident that wasn’t your fault. The best way to get maximum compensation is to work with an experienced lawyer like Attorney Peter N. Davis. He and his team at Peter N. Davis & Associates will fight for the justice you deserve. Just give us a call or fill out the online form to get started on your free case review today.