Getting compensation after a car accident is critical to supporting yourself and your family. You may be out of work, or your car could be out of commission. If the at-fault driver was drinking at the time of the accident, filing your claim correctly becomes that much more important. If you experienced loss because of someone’s negligence, you are entitled to a full financial and physical recovery.
Learn more about personal injury claims against drunk drivers.
Ohio’s Drunk Driving Laws and Personal Injury Claims
Under Ohio law, drivers cannot operate a vehicle while impaired. If they have a blood alcohol concentration higher than .08%, the driver could be charged with an Operating a Vehicle While Impaired offense. Commercial drivers can be charged with an OVI if they have a BAC higher than .04%.
In personal injury law, the claimant or injured party files a claim against a negligent person. After a car accident, a victim claims that the at-fault driver was negligent. To be considered negligent, someone must have a duty of care, they must breach that duty, and the breach must hurt someone.
Negligence Per Se
Injury claims involving drunk drivers work slightly differently than other crash claims. When a drunk driver causes an accident, it’s assumed that they breached their duty of care to drive sober. They put other people in harm’s way. They can be considered negligent per se if their crash causes damages.
The Ohio Personal Injury Claims Process
A personal injury claim involving a drunk driver will start like other claims: at the scene of the accident.
Get Medical Treatment
First, you’ll need to call emergency services and seek medical treatment. You could have suffered severe injuries, so getting evaluated is critical to a successful claim. You need treatment so you can recover, but also to get evidence for your claim.
Collect Evidence at the Scene
If you’re able, get photographs of the crash scene. Photos of your vehicle, your injuries, and the road conditions can all support your injury claim. You’re looking for things that help point to the at-fault driver as the reason you had an accident. You should also get any witnesses’ contact information.
Law enforcement should collect evidence for their report, including your information, other drivers’ information, and everyone’s condition.
Call a Personal Injury Lawyer
While it’s possible to file an insurance claim without an attorney, you stand a much better chance at a successful claim by working with a personal injury lawyer. They’ll be able to keep an eye on all details, minor and major. They can investigate your crash, negotiate with insurers, and ensure your damages are calculated correctly.
File a Claim and Reach a Settlement
You’ll need to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You’ll inform them of the accident, the losses you experienced, and the compensation you expect. It’s unlikely that the insurer will approve your first demand. Your attorney can negotiate for you. If you cannot reach an agreement, you may need to take the defendant to court, and a jury will decide your settlement.
Other Things to Consider in a Drunk Driving Claim
Personal injury cases follow a similar template, but you can expect there to be differences in cases. Your attorney can explain these nuances and how they could come up in your claim.
Criminal Charges Versus Civil Claims
The at-fault driver could face criminal charges for impaired driving after they caused your accident. A criminal charge differs from your civil claim but can support your personal injury case. You can use that as evidence in your claim if the defendant is found guilty of criminal charges.
The prosecutor has a higher burden of proof in their case than you do in yours. They’ll have access to everything from law enforcement investigations, which you may be able to access and use for your claim. Even if the defendant is acquitted at their criminal trial, you can find evidence the prosecutor used to show the driver still caused your injuries in a crash.
Proving the Other Driver Was Drunk
You can find proof with the prosecutor if there are criminal charges against the other driver. If not, you may need to look at the police report, witness testimony, and video evidence from the street, if possible. Police may have video from their body cameras, or they may have included statements the driver made to them during field sobriety testing.
A skilled personal injury lawyer will know where to look for evidence and how to collect it.
Punitive Damages in a Drunk Driving Claim
Drunk driving is a serious claim, and depending on your circumstances, you may be able to apply for punitive damages. This is not an award meant to compensate you for your damages; instead, it’s a punishment for the drunk driver. There are certain points you must meet, but an attorney can evaluate your case to see if punitive damages apply.
Challenges to Drunk Driving Claims
While you might think your case is solid, you should be aware that there may be challenges to your personal injury claim. The defendant could claim you share blame for the crash, say they weren’t drinking, or they might claim your injuries didn’t happen because of your crash.
Having the most evidence that can prove your claim is essential.
Call an Ohio Car Accident Lawyer Now
Dealing with a personal injury claim can be challenging when you’re recovering from a crash. Finding a qualified personal injury lawyer is essential to ensuring a successful claim. You should call the car accident lawyers at Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright, Co. LPA. We’re ready to hear your story and get started on your claim.
We know that a crash can be devastating and that you could use guidance in the uncertain aftermath. We’ve helped countless clients in your situation get the money they need to move forward. Let us help you.