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Can You Sue a Drunk Driver for Injuries from an Accident?

If you are injured in an auto accident caused by a drunk driver, you have every right to sue for damages. However, there are issues related to suing a drunk driver that may make collecting damages more difficult.

In most cases, it will be easier for you to obtain a court judgment, because driving drunk is negligence per se. That means you don’t have to prove the drunk driver was careless; you simply have to prove the drunk driver hit you, rather than you hitting him. Here again, you may have an easy time, because a judge or jury would naturally be receptive to the argument that the drunk driver caused the accident. However, a victory is not automatic.

Depending on the facts of your accident, the drunk driver might assert a counterclaim, alleging that you were also negligent in causing the accident. If you violated a traffic law by speeding or running a red light, that could likewise be negligence per se. A court could reduce your recovery in accordance with the percentage of fault attributable to you.

However, even if you are able to prove the drunk driver was entirely responsible for the accident, you might still have difficulties to overcome. Most auto accident claims are made against the at-fault driver’s insurance company, but many drunk drivers are uninsured or underinsured. There are obvious reasons for this: a driver with a previous conviction for drunk driving might be driving on a suspended license, and such drivers are not insured. The drunk driver may have also been hit with much higher premiums that he could not afford. Finally, insurance companies may have decided he was too high a risk and therefore uninsurable.

If this was the driver’s first DUI, chances are good he will have insurance. But, if it turns out the drunk driver was uninsured, you will have to rely on your own uninsured driver coverage and/or go after any personal assets the driver has, which might be sold to satisfy a judgment. If the driver has insufficient assets, you may have to petition the court to garnish his wages.

In some ways, the fact that a drunk driver hit you simplifies your claim, but it also introduces added complexities. For these reasons, you should contact an experienced auto accident attorney to represent you. For aggressive and effective representation, call Crane Flores, LLP today at (805) 628-4967 or contact our offices online to schedule a free consultation.