Drunk Drivers Kill People Every Day in Car Crashes
If you are hit by a drunken driver or someone who is under the influence of drugs and you suffer injuries, the chances of being compensated for all legal damages are good if the driver has insurance. Auto insurance companies know that a lawsuit against their customer that goes to trial could produce a fair award to you, the injured plaintiff. Punitive damages are possible because driving under the influence (DUI) is a willful offense, so settling is in their best interest. But whether the compensation is fair could be open to interpretation. The experienced Toledo drunk driver accident lawyers at Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault understand the tactics insurers use to deny or delay fair settlements.
Ohio’s “At-Fault” Insurance Laws Affect How Accident Claims are Paid
Ohio follows a traditional “fault” system when it comes to car accidents. Unlike “no-fault” states where the insurance companies essentially handle the matter, and then the at-fault driver’s insurer reimburses the victims’. So the intoxicated or impaired driver who caused the accident is responsible – through his or her insurer – for compensating victims for all injuries and other legal damages.
When the at-fault driver has car insurance, that coverage pays for everything – up to the limits of the insurance policy. If the ultimate total exceeds those limits, then that driver is personally responsible for paying the difference to the victims. Typically, one who is injured or suffers property damage after a car accident (or his or her attorney if the matter is turned over to legal counsel) may seek compensation in either (or both of) the following ways in an Ohio at-fault accident:
- They file a claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurer.
- If the claim is unsuccessful due to the insurer’s resistance, they file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver, who is defended by the insurer’s lawyers.
Ohio requires that all motor vehicle owners carry a certain amount of insurance coverage on the vehicle or demonstrate financial responsibility in case of an accident that they cause. Most drivers meet this legal obligation by carrying a liability policy on the vehicle or by getting a certificate that proves their financial responsibility by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Stiff penalties await those who are ticketed without acceptable proof of liability coverage. That certificate or insurance policy must be in the vehicle at all times and show that the driver has all of the following minimum coverages:
- $25,000 for the injury or death of one person (passenger, driver, pedestrian, etc.)
- $50,000 total coverage for all injuries or deaths caused by a single accident
- $25,000 for any property damage caused in any single accident.
Damages that Victims in a DUI-Related Accident can Seek
Victims of a drug or alcohol-related vehicle accident can demand the following damages from the at-fault driver with a Toledo drunk driving accident lawyer.
- Payment of all current and future medical bills due to the accident, including therapy and rehabilitation costs
- Lost income (or wages) for the period of time when the victim is unable to work
- Pain and suffering (including emotional pain if it can be proven)
- Property damage (includes vehicle repair or replacement and all property destroyed or damaged in the wreck)
- Wrongful death, including funeral expenses and loss of consortium
- Punitive damages — though not normally requested, the fact that the at-fault driver willfully drank to excess or took drugs is often compelling to a judge or jury
Please note that if your crash occurred in Michigan, that state has “no-fault” insurance laws. The Toledo drunk driving accident lawyers at Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault can explain how this affects your insurance claim. For a free consultation, call us at 419-843-6663 or use our contact us form.