When you’ve been hit by a drunk driver, you may wonder if the claims process is different than if you were hit by a sober driver. The process can be more complicated, but the basic steps are the same, with the exception being if you’re filing additional lawsuits against the driver or the insurance company. Here’s how to handle drunk driver insurance claims.
If you believe the driver of the other vehicle was drunk, you may wait to file claims until that driver has been convicted in criminal proceedings of a DUI before making any claims against his or her insurance. You’ll have a much higher chance of a favorable settlement once a conviction has been secured.
Will Insurance Companies Pay if the Driver was Drunk?
Despite drunk driving being illegal, car insurance companies will pay out up to the policy amount, if their policy holder is found to be at fault of driving whilst intoxicated. Afterwards, the insurance company may cancel the policy or raise the premiums astronomically for the at-fault party’s insurance, however. The exception to paying “up to the policy amount” is if you file a lawsuit with an attorney and the judge rules in favor of paying more than the policy amount stipulates.
Damage that occurs to the drunk driver’s vehicle is usually not covered by an insurance company if the individual is found to be driving whilst intoxicated. Any liability policies that the drunk driver has will only cover damages to the other party. Some policies have a drunken clause, which means the drunk driver will have to pay for any additional damages to his or her vehicle and any medical expenses. If the driver already has a DUI or DWI on record, that person will be considered a high-risk driver, increasing insurance rates.
Either way, for those who are hit by drunk drivers, rest assured, that their policy will pay out. If the drunk driver is uninsured, read here to find out what your legal options are. For cases of the driver not having insurance, it’s vital you have an attorney to help you through the process.
Making a Car Insurance Claim Against a Drunk Driver’s Insurance
Here are the steps to making a drunk driving insurance claim:
- Call 911
- Don’t refuse medical care
- File a claim with the drunk driver’s insurance
- Do not accept the first offer
- Hire an attorney
1. Call 911
Drivers who drive under the influence are most likely to take unnecessary risks when driving. Call 911 when it’s safe to do so and the police can write an accident report. There will also be paramedics to see to you and the other driver. If the other driver is found to be under the influence, the police can arrest them, which will be important information for your claim.
2. Don’t refuse medical care
Even if you think you’re okay, always seek medical attention after an accident. Get a complete medical check up. After the shock of an accident adrenaline is often still pumping making you feel okay and masking physical pain, but you may be severely injured or injuries will develop over time. If there are paramedics on the scene, get an examination and it’s recommended that you use an ambulance to take you to the hospital.
If it’s safe to do so, before you go to the doctor’s office or hospital, gather as much evidence at the scene such as the names and details of anyone involved and any witnesses, as well as photographic and video evidence of the accident.
3. File a claim with the drunk driver’s insurance
Insurance companies very rarely reject claims filed against them when the driver has been driving under the influence. When you’re able, file a claim with the drunk driver’s insurance company. All medical care will have to be finished when you file the claim, so you may have to wait until you know all of your medical needs have been taken care of. You don’t want to ask for, say, $5,000 of medical bill coverage only to find that you have $12,000 of medical bills when it’s all said and done.
Before you file a claim, make sure you have accounted for all damages, and held onto any documents related to the accident. You may want to consult an attorney to help you settle.
4. Do not accept the first offer
Even in drunk driving cases, insurance companies will try and get you to settle too quickly - and for less than the full policy amount. Just like in any insurance claim, do not settle for the first figure. Finish healing from any medical treatment. Furthermore, if you do not come to an agreement on the settlement, you may wish to file a lawsuit.
5. Hire an attorney
Drunk driving cases can get complicated, especially if you require more monetary compensation than the policy allows. In such cases, you may want to sue the insurance company, use speciality laws (such as the dram shop law) if a bar, for example, is at fault, or sue the drunk driver him or herself. When you wish to file a civil lawsuit, you will need the help of an experienced attorney. Only when the case goes to court does the insurance company no longer dictate the settlement - the judge does - so if you simply file a claim with an insurance company, your payout may be capped at $50,000 (or the drunk driver’s policy amount). But, if you file a case against the driver, especially a personal injury case, you will be eligible for much more. Furthermore, an attorney can help you understand what damages you need; they’ll understand the long-term impact of medical pain, the cost of emotional damages, the cost of repairs, and so forth.
Filing Lawsuits Against a Drunk Driver or Using Speciality Laws
If you wish to file a lawsuit against a drunk driver or use speciality laws, Coxwell & Associates, PLLC can help you with your case, or if you have been hit by a drunk driver and need help with the process, we are here to help too. We take DUI cases incredibly seriously and we are committed to convicting those who drive under the influence, allowing you to receive fair compensation for any damages resulting from an incident.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.