Harmed in an Accident with a Drunk Driver? Know Your Legal Options

You’re on your way home from a late night at the office. Suddenly and without warning, another driver runs a red light and crashes into your car, totaling it and leaving you with a broken arm and fractured pelvis. When the police arrive and take the driver into custody, tests confirm that he has a blood alcohol level of .12%, which is well beyond the legal limit.

Any time a drunk driver operates a motor vehicle in Missouri, they are both committing a crime and putting the public at risk of serious injury or death. Between 2013 and 2015, there were 670 fatalities involving drugs and/or alcohol consumption on Missouri’s streets and roads.

Available Damages in Missouri

In Missouri, people injured by drunk drivers can sue for two different types of damages: economic and noneconomic.

Economic damages include:

  • Medical bills incurred by the accident itself
  • Medical bills incurred to treat your injuries
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning ability
  • Property damage caused by the collision
  • Funeral expenses

Noneconomic damages address pain and suffering you are experiencing because of the accident.

Seeking Compensation

You have several options when it comes to seeking compensation:

  • File a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurer. This is the first option when the other driver is clearly at fault.
  • Sue the other driver directly. If the insurance company does not offer you fair compensation, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

In some cases, you may be able to sue the bar, restaurant, or tavern that served the drunk driver pursuant to the state’s dram shop laws. In Missouri, businesses that offer alcohol are not allowed to serve anyone who is visibly intoxicated or under 21. This liability, however, does not apply to a social host who gave alcohol to the driver at a private get-together, as the Missouri Supreme Court has held that social hosts are not covered by the dram shop statute.

If the person who injured you was permitted to drive despite visible evidence of intoxication, the individual who gave them the car keys or otherwise facilitated access to the vehicle may be also be liable for your injuries under negligent entrustment. This cause of action can apply if a trucking company hires a driver with a lengthy DUI record and allows them to go out on the road although their record could easily have been discovered had a reasonable search been done.

Collecting Compensation

No matter which insurance company you file a claim against, many want you to settle as quickly and cheaply as possible. This typically means the settlement figure they offer you will be low and may not address future medical expenses. Insurers are in the business of making money for themselves, not you, which means you are likely to encounter problems.

To get the compensation your case deserves, you want to work with an experienced Missouri personal injury attorney. If an insurance company offer does not adequately cover all of your past, current, and future financial needs, your attorney can take the case to court to fight for fair compensation.

If you were injured by a drunk driver in Missouri, let Ryan R. Cox & Associates work to protect your interests and get you justice.  We will meet with you at a time and place that’s most convenient, go over your case, and advise you on the best way to proceed. Contact us or call 636-946-6886 today for a free and confidential consultation.

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Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC

Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC is a litigation law firm that represents individuals and families in serious personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout Missouri. We help people who have been injured in all types of accidents—including car or truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and much more. Whether your injury is something that can cause long-term issues like a brain injury or spinal cord injury, or it is something you’ll likely make a full recovery from, we are here to help.

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