Legal Options if Hurt by a Drunk Driver in Ohio
Drunk driving is a national epidemic. In the United States, drunk driving is responsible for about one-third of all car accident fatalities, causing 9,967 deaths in 2014, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If you’ve suffered because of a drunk driver, call an Ohio car accident attorney today.
Drunk Driving Accidents
Some of these deaths occurred in Ohio. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported there were 3,637 people killed by drunk drivers in Ohio between 2003 and 2012. Countless others are injured by drunk drivers in Ohio and across the U.S. From causing minor scrapes and bruises to debilitating injuries, drunk drivers are a serious threat on our roads.
If you or a loved one was injured by a drunk driver, you aren’t alone. Thousands of others like you had been hurt and sought to recover for their injuries. By working with an Ohio personal injury attorney, you can be sure that the drunk driver doesn’t walk away from the accident without consequences. You can ensure you’re compensated for your injuries and that the financial ramifications of the crash don’t hurt your family years down the road.
What is Drunk Driving?
It seems like an obvious question, but many people aren’t aware of when they’ve had too much to drink in order to still be able to drive. Many people believe they have a high tolerance for alcohol, which enables them to function properly while drinking. They think they can have a few drinks and still be able to get behind the wheel. However, a person’s belief in their ability to safely operate a car and their blood alcohol limit aren’t related.
The BAC limit in Ohio is .08 percent. People reach this amount much faster than they think. Depending on the person’s weight, the number of drinks they’ve had, and how long it took them to consume those drinks, it may only take a few glasses of wine or shots to put them over the legal limit.
Also, even if a person is below the legal limit, alcohol still impairs the ability to drive. Alcohol affects people’s perception and reflexes, which means an impaired driver may not accurately see the road and his or her maneuvers. He or she may also not be able to stop in time once they notice brake lights or a pedestrian in the road.
If the police find that the driver who hit you is intoxicated due to alcohol or another substance, the local prosecutor may bring criminal charges against the driver. Depending on the accident and if you and anyone are seriously hurt or killed, the charges may be for more than a simple DUI.
A drunk driver can be charged with vehicular assault or aggravated vehicular assault. Aggravated vehicle assault is specifically for people who are charged with causing serious physical harm to an individual or unborn baby while operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If someone is killed, the driver may be charged with vehicular manslaughter. Most of these charges are serious felonies and can lead to permanent criminal records, fines, and prison time.
While criminal charges bring justice to those who are hurt, there is no monetary benefit for the victims. If you were hurt and need money to pay your medical bills, mortgage, and other costs of living, you will need to settle with the driver’s insurance company or file a civil suit.
What You Can Recover in a Civil Suit
In most situations, you will first file a third-party claim against the drunk driver’s auto insurance company. If you claim is approved, you can then negotiate a settlement with the insurer to cover your property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and more if necessary.
It’s best to have an Ohio personal injury help you through the claims process. It can be tricky to provide the necessary information to the insurer without providing information they don’t need and aren’t entitled to. If your claim is denied, an attorney can help you appeal the decision. Additionally, you don’t have to take the first settlement offer. An experienced attorney will negotiate with the insurance company to maximize your settlement.
Never settle for less than what you deserve. The insurance company is looking out for itself and will want to pay a lesser amount. However, many insurance companies want to avoid trials related to drunk drivers. Your attorney can use this as leverage for a better settlement offer. It is always up to you as to whether you accept a settlement or go to trial.
If you’re unable to reach a satisfactory settlement with an insurer, you’ll need to file a civil case against the drunk driver in order to recover. Through a lawsuit, you’ll be able to seek compensatory damages, and in some circumstances, punitive damages. Compensatory damages are meant to make you whole. They will cover the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle, your past and future medical expenses, lost income due to being away from work, and pain and suffering. Punitive damages are meant to punish the individual for his or her behavior.
Contact an Ohio Car Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one was hurt by a drunk driver, you deserve justice. You can’t control whether or not criminal charges are brought against the driver, but you can ensure that you receive a financial settlement that puts you and your family on the right foot to move forward.
Kisling, Nestico & Redick have 11 Ohio locations to best serve you. Contact the location nearest to you to learn more about your rights and how a car accident lawyer can help you by calling 1-800-HURT-NOW.