September 16, 2016

I was hit by a drunk driver – can I sue?

Getting hit by a drunk driver is a sticky situation. If you’re lucky, you walk away frustrated, but okay. If you’re not, you might not walk away. Therefore, it’s important that you know your rights if you’re involved in this kind of situation. “I was hit by a drunk driver – can I sue?” Yes, you can. Let’s explain how it works.

Suing the at-fault driver’s insurance company

When you seek out financial compensation for being involved in a car accident with a drunk driver, you’ll generally be approaching the other driver’s insurance company to provide a settlement. While Florida is a no-fault state, meaning there is no legal blame to be had in a car accident, the picture changes when the at-fault driver was drunk. In this way, a law was broken, and you’re seen as a victim of this action, meaning you may be entitled to compensation. 

Due to the no-fault rule, the first step to receiving a settlement from the other guy’s insurance company is to make sure it’s on record that they were driving under the influence. If this information is not recorded, it’s as good as nonexistent. This also means you have leverage.

Do keep in mind that this is a settlement, not a payment for medical bills, car repair, etc. While you’re free to use it as such, Florida’s no-fault law says that the other driver’s insurance company is not liable to pay your bills.

What the insurance company will do

When you approach the insurance company regarding a settlement, they are faced with two possible outcomes: either they offer you an amount that you’re happy with and the situation blows over, or they end up in court where they’ll be forced to defend their policy-holder who was driving drunk. Well, they’re not going to win a case defending a drunk driver, are they?

Therefore, it is in their best interest to offer you a healthy settlement. Unfortunately, they’re operating under the suspicion that you’re not aware of what a good settlement is. They’ll try to low-ball you and offer you a settlement that may sound great to you, but is below what they’re able to provide. A good number to look at from them is about $500,000 for just you involved in the crash. If there is more than one person involved, the settlement will be lower across the board.

What you can do

One good way to force their hand is to be very clear that you have an attorney who will fight for what you deserve. If you have a trial attorney by your side, the insurance company will be aware that you are prepared to go to court, and will be more likely to offer you a settlement to please your attorney.

Besides having the threat of strong legal representation on your side, it is of utmost importance that you keep all your documentation. The strongest cases are those with lots of paper behind them, so be sure to keep medical bills, car repair costs, documentation of any loss of wages if you’re unable to work due to physical/emotional injury, etc. If you do end up in court, a well-documented case against a drunk driver is a strong case.

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