WHAT CAN I DO AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT WITH A DRUNK DRIVER
Car wrecks result in very serious injuries to drivers and passengers alike, regardless of alcohol involvement. However, any subsequent accident injury claims are evaluated differently in alcohol-related cases. Proving Fault is central to all auto accidents in the state of Tennessee since the state has one of the most restrictive comparative fault laws in the nation. While Tennessee uses a comparative fault structure it could be more difficult if Tennessee adopted a contributory system. However, Tennessee's modified comparative fault systemwhich applies a 50 percent bar rule when determining insurance benefits eligibility or the amount of liability of a driver is being evaluated like all laws and we recommend always calling your Congressman and telling them to allow injured people to collect from other parties except for their apportionment of fault.
Drunk driving is serious in Tennessee
Tennessee is focused on reducing drunk driving. Recently Tennessee experienced an increase in drunk driving deaths by an 11.5 percent rate. This number almost tripled compared to the increases in Alabama and Georgia and is much worse when compared to other states up North or out West. This has prompted state officials to prosecute drunk driving as a very serious crime in every jurisdiction within the state an MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving can be seen policing the courts to make sure Prosecutors are relentlessly prosecuting offenders.
This also means that accident injury cases involving drunk drivers should include the claim of punitive damages or wrongful death claims in applicable cases. The problem with punitive damages is that the underlying insurance companies are generally not liable for damages that are punitive in nature. Criminal charges are common in a DUI accident case, even before the injury claims are finalized, and it can often be the difference maker when the state wins a conviction as to any liability issues. However, this can also be problematic as well because it could reduce the available financial recovery resources when fines come first and insurance coverage is limited and more often then not in these types of cases we never have as much coverage as we would like.
Impact of comparative fault
The comparative fault percentage of any injured driver will affect their claim significantly by the proportion of their liability. Auto accidents in Tennessee that are determined 50/50 collisions typically eliminate any financial recovery for either driver, even when an intoxicated driver has totaled your car, which can be frustrating to hear because the drunk driver should not have been on the road in the first place.
The fact that they are impaired usually only matters if the blood alcohol content (BAC) level is beyond certain criteria in most fact patterns but the age of the driver and if it is a commercial vehicle can affect the BAC numbers. Underage drivers are held to a zero tolerance standard and commercial drivers, CDL holders are restricted to a .02 BAC when determining criminal charges.
Additionally, it is also illegal to drive under the influence of certain chemicals—whether they are prescribed or not—and the presence of drugs in the bloodstream is material evidence in the injury claim. These substances include but are not limited to marijuana, meth, pain pills, and Xanax. Betz and Baril will focus on all of these potential issues in your claim while minimizing any comparative negligence percentage.
Who can be held liable for drunk driving accidents?
Drinking and driving are often complicated by the fact that multiple parties could be found liable when all case elements are evaluated. Drunk drivers are commonly involved in accidents with multiple vehicles, which can result in several drivers being assessed a fault percentage, which means other parties could also be held liable and more people maybe injured which can erode a smaller insurance policy that much quicker. That is another reason why it is so important to carry uninsured motorist coverage
Punitive damages for drunk driving injury cases
It's not unusual for a drunk driver accident case to find its way to court. Sometimes the defending parties want a trial, and sometimes the injured claimant wants whole damages as assigned by a jury. Punitive damages can only be awarded after a trial and then the amount is capped at $750,000 in Tennessee.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident involving a drunk or drugged driver, then it is vital to have experienced and aggressive legal representatives looking out for your interests because it can be the difference between being properly compensated or possibly not receiving any compensation at all. Cases against drunk drivers are challenging because they are almost always defended vigorously by the defendant's insurance company. You need a professional legal team handling your case.
It's vital to have an experienced Tennessee personal injury attorney, like the team at Betz and Baril who understands how to handle a claim involving an intoxicated driver for a successful outcome. Contact us today at 865-888-8888, that is right don't wait call 8!