Can you sue if you get hit by a drunk driver? The answer: yes. When a motor vehicle accident involves a drunk motorist, it almost always leads to a legal claim brought by those who were hit by the drunk driver. Intoxicated motorists can not only face civil liability for injuries and damages they cause in an accident, but may also face serious criminal charges for DWI, especially if an accident results in serious injury or death.
If you’ve been involved in a drunk driving accident, you may be entitled to file suit against that driver for your injuries and damaged property.
Civil vs. Criminal Drunk Driving Case
A civil claim arising from a drunk driving accident is separate from the criminal proceedings that might be initiated following the accident. A criminal DWI case is intended to punish the drunk driver for their conduct and to protect the public from future harm from drunk driving through a deterrent effect. Whereas a civil case requires that someone suffered some sort of compensable injuries or losses, a criminal DWI case can be filed even if no accident or injuries were involved.
A civil case following a drunk driving accident is filed by the persons injured or who suffered property damage in the accident, or by the family members of those killed by a drunk driver who causes an accident. A civil lawsuit may be a drunk driving accident victim’s only means of securing compensation from the drunk driver who caused the accident.
Effect of New Jersey’s No-Fault System on Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuits
New Jersey is a no-fault state, meaning that a person injured in a motor vehicle accident is expected to first turn to their own insurance policy for compensation under their personal injury protection coverage for medical expenses and other out-of-pocket costs. Only once PIP coverage has been exhausted can a drunk driving accident victim bring a claim against the drunk driver.
In addition, for accident victims who have selected the limitation on liability in their auto policy, they cannot seek compensation for non-economic damages arising from the accident, such as pain and suffering or loss of quality of life, unless they’ve suffered a catastrophic injury as defined by state law. Insureds who have selected the full liability option in their auto policy can seek non-economic damages under any circumstances. Of course, any drunk driving accident victim can seek compensation for economic losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and repair or replacement costs for their vehicle.
Filing a Wrongful Death Suit after a Drunk Driving Accident
If you have a family member who was killed by a drunk driver, your loved one’s estate and your family may be entitled to pursue a wrongful death claim against the drunk driver who caused the accident. Wrongful death claims are often thought of as a personal injury claim that the decedent could have brought had they survived the injuries wrongfully inflicted upon them. A wrongful death claim can allow your family to recover losses you’ve incurred due to your family member’s passing, including funeral and burial costs, lost financial contributions and benefits, and loss of your family member’s companionship and society.
Read more: Wrongful Death Claims Explained
Contact a Haddonfield Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Drunk Driving Accident Case in New Jersey
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a drunk driving accident in New Jersey? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at The Law Offices of Andres & Berger, P.C. represent clients injured because of drunk driving accidents in Pennsauken, Voorhees, Lindenwold, Haddon Township, and throughout New Jersey. Call (856) 795-1444 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 264 Kings Highway East, Haddonfield, NJ 08033.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.