Car accidents can have devastating effects on an individual’s life, but collisions caused by drunk driving can be even more severe. Impaired drivers often fail to take any necessary actions to reduce the impact of the accident, such as braking or swerving, which can result in severe injuries like traumatic brain injury or spinal cord damage, and in some tragic cases, even death. If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, the personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Maginnis Howard in North Carolina can provide the guidance and support you need.
Drunk driving collisions are handled differently by insurance companies. If a DUI case is taken to a jury trial, the jury can award additional damages beyond those available in other automobile collision cases. The insurance company then must pay that verdict on behalf of its drunk driving insured. It would rather mislead injured victims into settling the case early than let those victims speak with an attorney and learn the available options for recovering compensation for injuries caused by a drunk driver.
Like any other automobile accident case, a collision involving a negligent intoxicated driver entitles you to recover basic “compensatory” damages. These are damages designed to “make you whole” and include compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, permanent injury, permanent scarring, and physical pain and mental suffering. However, you may also recover “punitive damages” under Chapter 1D of the North Carolina General Statutes.
Punitive damages are designed to punish someone who has acted recklessly and with indifference to the rights and safety of others. The perfect example is a drunk driver. Juries tend to award more “punitive” damages when the drunk driver is a repeat offender, so it is always critical for you and your attorney to do a full investigation to learn if the drunk driver in your case has prior charges. A jury has more discretion to decide punitive damages if a drunk driving collision is particularly catastrophic.
In far too many drunk driving cases, the irresponsible driver does not have sufficient insurance to cover all the damages caused by their negligence. North Carolina’s minimum insurance requirements are low, and sometimes, other drivers fail to get insurance altogether. A good law firm will help you look beyond the negligent drunk driver to see if there is another person or company who failed to act responsibly and contributed to your injuries. This means looking at the source of the alcohol. Was the drunk driver served or furnished alcohol after they were already noticeably and visibly intoxicated? Was the drunk driver served underage? Under North Carolina’s “draw shop” law, a furnisher of alcohol, whether a bar, restaurant, or social host, can be liable if they serve alcohol to a person who is noticeably and visibly intoxicated and likely to operate a motor vehicle.
Maginnis Howard’s lead personal injury attorney, Shawn Howard, has experience handling cases like this. In the high-profile case of a UNC student who drove drunk the wrong way down I-85 after drinking at his fraternity house, an apartment, and two Franklin Street bars, the firm recovered a $2.9 million wrongful death settlement for the family of a child killed in the wreck. Our firm can help you determine whether, in addition to your claim against the drunk driver, you have a viable dram shop or social host case.
The Maginnis Howard auto accident attorneys offer free case evaluations to all North Carolinians injured in drunk driving accidents. We handle all automobile accident cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you pay no attorneys’ fees unless we recover money damages on your behalf. We will travel to meet with you to discuss your DUI injury case. Visit our contact page to send a confidential email with the facts of your case to an intake specialist in your area.