Drunk drivers are responsible for a disproportionate number of car accidents which result in catastrophic injuries or wrongful death. When this happens, the lion’s share of the blame naturally rests on the intoxicated driver. However, as the law has developed in Illinois, the liability for injuries and death caused by drunk drivers may extend beyong just the drunk driver. We help the victims and families of drunk driving accidents achieve maximum compensation by carefully investigating and identifying all potentially liable parties.
Who can be held liable for car accidents caused by drunk drivers?
1. The drunk driver
A conviction for drunk driving will normally expose the drunk driver to punitive damages in a civil lawsuit. However, very few insurance policies provide coverage for punitive damages. That means the drunk driver himself must pay the punitive damages part of the jury’s award. This means that insurers will normally offer higher than average settlements in order to protect the assets of the drunk driver they insure. An insurer’s failure to act in good faith to protect the assets of its insured may result in the carrier having to pay judgments beyond the policy limits.
2. The drunk driver’s employer
The law makes an employer liable for the negligent acts of its employees. If the employee becomes intoxicated during a work-related function and then gets on the road, the employer may be held liable for any ensuing accident. This might occur when an employee attends a business dinner, becomes intoxicated, and then gets into a crash while driving home drunk.
This kind of information is not always developed in the police investigation of an accident, but an aggressive attorney pursuing a civil lawsuit for personal injuries resulting from the drunk driving accident would certainly follow up on this line of investigation.
3. Dram shops
Dram shop is the legal term for any establishment that provides alcohol as part of its business. Lawsuits involving dram shops fall under the Illinois Dram Shop Act.
If a dram shop serves alcohol to a customer who becomes intoxicated and proceeds to cause injury to someone else, the injured person can recover damages up the statutory maximum. Each year in Illinois, the statutory maximum is adjusted.
The challenging part of this type of lawsuit is identifying the proper defendants. It is important to investigate quickly, before the statute of limitations expires.
For Dram Shop Act cases, the statute of limitations is only one year, as compared to the two years normally imposed for a personal injury claim.
Do not delay in hiring a well-qualified, aggressive personal injury attorney to investigate and prosecute lawsuits involving accidents caused by drunk drivers.
4. Uninsured motorist claims and Underinsured motorist claims
It often seems that the worst drivers fail to carry adequate insurance, if they carry any at all. When drunk drivers cause serious injuries, victims may have a basis for pursuing uninsured motorist and/or underinsured motorist claims under their own policies.
5. Adults who serve minors alcohol
Illinois has a special statute which imposes civil liability on adults who knowingly provide alcohol to children under the age of 18 who then cause injuries due to their intoxication.
What do we do to help victims of drunk driving accidents?
- Thoroughly investigate the facts of the accident
- Identify where the at-fault driver became intoxicated and the circumstances
- Hold all liable parties accountable for the injuries
- Preserve the victim’s right to pursue uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist claims, if warranted
- Assist the victims in contacting advocacy groups to help them in their recovery.
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