Filing a drunk driving accident claim is different from a claim for a motor vehicle collision not involving alcohol. Drunk driving claims are different in important ways that can affect your right to compensation and can increase the value of your claim.
Key Differences Between Drunk Driving and Other Motor Vehicle Crash Claims
The basic laws governing motor vehicle accidents also apply to drunk driving wreck claims. For example, in both types of cases, you are entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In addition, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit will most likely be the same. However, here are crucial differences in drunk driving cases to be aware of:
Proof of negligence.
While you still must prove the other driver’s drunk driving caused your accident, negligence may be easier to prove. For example, you can use the blood alcohol content (BAC) test results and the driver’s arrest as strong evidence that his intoxication was the cause of the crash.
In a drunk driving case, the driver may also face criminal charges. If he pleads guilty or is convicted of drunk driving, this may be considered negligence per se—negligence would automatically be proven—and can provide strong evidence in your civil case.
In cases where the driver’s actions are especially negligent, the victim may be entitled to punitive damages to punish the liable party. You are much more likely to be awarded punitive damages in a drunk driving case than another type of motor vehicle accident.
Dram shop claim.
Under Rhode Island’s dram shop laws, you may have a claim against a bar, restaurant, store, or other business for providing alcohol to the drunk driver.
The drunk driver’s insurance company may take your claim for compensation more seriously if there is clear evidence that the driver was intoxicated. While settling your claim could still be complicated, the insurance company may be more reluctant to take your case to jury trial.