A drunk driving accident lawyer can help you hold an intoxicated motorist accountable for injuries you sustain in a crash. However, although the drunk driver may be 100% at fault, fair compensation is not guaranteed.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an alcohol-involved car accident, you may be asking “Can I sue a drunk driver?” The simple answer is “Yes,” but it is important not to assume that the other driver’s insurance company will just pay up without a fight.
Please call Hautpman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop at (402) 241-5020 today for a FREE case review. Our drunk driving accident lawyers serve clients in Omaha, Sarpy County, and throughout Nebraska and Iowa.
How Common Are Drunk Driving Accidents in Nebraska?
Drunk driving accidents are extremely common. Statistics from the Nebraska Department of Transportation reveal that, on average, there are nearly 1,700 alcohol-involved car accidents every year. That translates into approximately 4 drunk driving accidents every single day.
While there is no excuse for drunk driving, it remains a major safety concern on Nebraska’s roads. Sadly, many people suffer life-altering and life-threatening injuries due to a motorist’s decision to get drunk and then get behind the wheel.
Drunk driving can lead to a wide range of motor vehicle accidents, including:
Suing a Drunk Driver After a Serious or Fatal Car Accident in Nebraska
It is important to be aware of your rights if you are hit by a drunk driver. Driving under the influence is an inherently negligent act. In the event of an accident, therefore, you can likely bring a claim against the driver’s auto insurance policy.
Drivers in Nebraska are required to carry a minimum of $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person and $50,000 in liability coverage per accident. Auto insurance covers drunk driving accidents. So, as long as the drunk driver is insured, you should be able to recover compensation under his or her insurance policy.
Unfortunately, even when another driver is clearly at fault for the accident, victims and their families can still face uphill battles. This is why it is important to have experienced legal representation.
A drunk driving accident lawyer can deal with the insurance company for you. If necessary, your attorney can file a lawsuit and take the case to court.
Here are some important additional considerations for seeking financial compensation after a drunk driving accident in Nebraska:
1. While Most Drunk Driving Accident Claims Settle, Some Don’t
When you have an auto insurance claim after a drunk driving accident, the best-case scenario is that the insurance company will agree to settle your claim for maximum value. However, it is important not to count on this happening.
The insurance company will likely try to settle your case for less than it is worth. Alternatively, the insurer may dispute liability and try to argue that you are responsible for the accident. Either of these situations might make it necessary to sue and (potentially) go to trial.
2. Dealing with an Uninsured Drunk Driver Presents Unique (But Not Insurmountable) Challenges
Despite Nebraska’s mandatory auto insurance law, some drivers are still uninsured. In fact, according to the Insurance Information Institute, close to 1 in 10 Nebraska drivers don’t have auto insurance.
If the drunk driver who hit you or your loved one is uninsured, does this mean that you should sue the drunk driver directly? Maybe. But, if the drunk driver doesn’t have auto insurance, there is also a reasonable chance that he or she lacks the resources needed to make you whole (or at least as whole as possible).
So, in this situation, it is important to explore all of your legal options. A knowledgeable attorney can identify any additional claims you may have, including:
- Filing a claim under your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy;
- Filing a lawsuit against the establishment that overserved the drunk driver (if the drunk driver is under 21 and was obviously intoxicated at the time of overservice); and/or
- Filing a lawsuit against the drunk driver’s employer (if the drunk driver was working at the time of the crash).
3. You Can Sue a Drunk Driver Outside of His or Her Auto Insurance Policy If It Makes Sense To Do So
Instead of settling with a drunk driver’s insurance company, sue them personally. If you sue them, their insurance carrier will still hire an attorney to represent them and their policy will first apply to credit any judgment in a lawsuit.
4. The Drunk Driver’s Criminal Case Won’t Affect Your Right to Financial Compensation
To be clear, while causing a car accident while drunk can lead to criminal prosecution for the drunk driver, criminal cases do not result in awards of financial compensation to accident victims and their families. While the drunk driver’s conviction might provide some peace of mind, you will need to file an insurance claim or lawsuit (or both) to recover the financial compensation you and your family deserve.
Similarly, if the charges against the driver are dismissed or he or she is acquitted in court, you still have the right to make a claim. Lawsuits are civil matters, not criminal ones, and the outcome in the latter does not affect the potential for success in the former.
5. You Must Be Careful to Protect Your Legal Rights
Finally, you need to treat the aftermath of an accident with a drunk driver the same way you would any other type of accident. You should document the scene, get the driver’s information, and report the accident to the police as soon as possible.
You should also seek medical attention for any injuries you have sustained. After that, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney who can help you explore your legal rights.
Contact a Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Today
Suing a drunk driver is one way to pursue compensation for injuries and damages after an accident caused by an intoxicated motorist. However, it may be possible to reach a fair settlement without filing a lawsuit.
Your choice of lawyer makes a major difference in the success of your claim. The attorneys at Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop have more than 200 years of combined experience representing clients who have been injured in accidents through no fault of their own.
We are committed to protecting your rights and safeguarding your future. For a FREE case review, please contact Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop today.