The holiday season is over, which means the number of drunk drivers on the roads has likely decreased. However, if you were injured by a drunk driver recently, you are probably struggling with many different problems while you try to get your life back to normal.
Injuries from an accident caused by a drunk driver can be serious, leaving you starting your new year looking at a long road of recovery ahead of you. The medical bills could already be piling up and you may be forced to take time off work.
You may know that you have a right to compensation through a personal injury action, but it is important to know the law involved to make sure you receive a full and fair amount.
Compensation from insurance companies may not cover all your losses
Drunk driving is negligent driving, which is the legal concept personal injury actions are based on. When a drunk driver injures you in Massachusetts, the driver’s insurance company will usually compensate you for the injuries caused by their drunk driving.
However, this compensation may not be enough to cover all your damages related to the accident. This often happens because the drunk driver does not have enough insurance coverage to fully compensate you.
You should then review your own insurance policy and determine if you have any right to recover under your policy’s uninsured/underinsured coverage. You can also file a personal injury action against the drunk driver or other parties personally.
If they are found liable for negligence, the court can award you a certain amount of compensation for your damages.
Figuring out who is responsible
As you investigate the circumstances of your drunk driving accident, you should examine how the driver became drunk and where they had their last drink.
Maybe the person who served or supplied the alcohol to the drunk driver should have stopped serving them after it was obvious that they were too intoxicated and/or prevented them from getting behind the wheel.
This person might be a bartender or restaurant server, a host of a social gathering or even an employer who hosted a social event, such as a holiday party. A court could find the person had a legal duty to ensure they did not overserve their guests or patrons.
If they failed in this legal duty and this caused the driver to drive drunk and cause your injuries, they are the negligent party.
When building your case for negligence, prepare to defend yourself if the drunk driver asserts you had some responsibility for your injuries.
Comparative negligence could impact your recovery
Massachusetts has a modified comparative negligence law. This means that your compensation is reduced in proportion to the amount of your own negligence. If your negligence is found to be more than the drunk driver’s you will not receive any compensation at all.
For example, if you were speeding at the time of the accident, a court could determine that your speeding contributed to the severity of your injuries and reduce your compensation accordingly. You should be aware of this possible defense the drunk driver may use.
Facing the court system alone after an injury by a drunk driver is usually confusing and intimidating. It is important to have someone on your side to fight for your right to compensation.