The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates there are over two million people injured each year in traffic accidents. Many of these car accidents are the result of drunken driving. Whether or not you can file a personal injury lawsuit after a drunk driving injury, however, will depend on your state’s laws, whether you filed a claim within the statute of limitations, and in some states, the threshold (either monetary or severity) of your drunk driving injuries.
Fault-Based states and a personal injury lawsuit
Many states maintain what is called a tort liability system or fault-based system for determining who will pay damages after a DUI car accident. In these states drivers retain their rights to file a personal injury lawsuit if they cannot come to an agreement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company concerning the settlement amount and believe they need more money to fully compensate them for their lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
If you have been injured from the negligent actions of a drunken driver and you live in a fault-based state, you may have the right file a personal injury lawsuit for compensation.
No-Fault states and a personal injury lawsuit
No-fault states, in an attempt to avoid costly legal battles, have replaced their tort-based system with a no-fault system. If you are injured by another driver in a no-fault state the each driver’s insurance company will pay for the damages, regardless of fault (some no-fault states, will allow a personal injury claim to be filed if a monetary threshold for damages or a severity of injury threshold is reached).
Currently, there are 12 states which use the no-fault based system including Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah.
When can I file a personal injury lawsuit for drunk driving in a no-fault state?
The ability to sue a drunken driver if they have injured you in a car accident remains a hotly debated topic in no-fault states. Drunk drivers in at-fault states are automatically subject to civil liability. In no-fault states, however, there is not an automatic right to sue even if the drunken drivers negligence clearly caused the injuries.
As mentioned above, however, some no-fault states will allow a driver who is injured in a DUI accident to sue the drunken driver if their medical expenses exceed a certain amount. In other states the drivers is only allowed to sue if their injuries reach a certain level of severity (i.e., you have suffered a permanent injury or severe disfigurement). In other states a personal injury lawsuit may be filed if either threshold is met.
Do I need to hire a personal lawyer?
Due to the complexity of car accident laws it may be a good idea to talk to a personal injury lawyer if you have been injured by a drunken driver and you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit.
If you serious injuries, if you are going to miss a substantial amount work, or if you have a permanent disability talk to a lawyer.
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