Even when drunk driving does not end in a fatal accident, the victims of the crash are often left with serious injuries that could last a lifetime.
If you were injured or lost a loved one in a crash caused by a drunk driver, you have the right to pursue compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, funeral and burial expenses, and other damages.
Call our Cleveland drunk driving accident lawyers to discuss your legal options with a licensed attorney in a free, no-obligation consultation. There are no upfront fees and we do not get paid unless we recover compensation on your behalf.
Our firm has secured millions on behalf of crash victims throughout Northeast Ohio, as we have been helping the injured for more than 40 years. This includes a nearly $4 million recovery for a 28-year-old who was severely injured in a crash with a drunk driver.
Contact us today to discuss legal options. Call 216-621-0070.
How Can an Attorney Help Me?
While drunk drivers face criminal consequences, they must also be held accountable for the damages they have caused, including medical bills, lost wages, wrongful death damages and more.
That is why you need an experienced attorney who is prepared to handle the civil side of the case. It is up to the injury victim to prove the person’s intoxication and that it resulted in damages. For an accident victim who suffered a serious injury, this could be stressful and delay the recovery process.
In DUI-related accident cases, like other personal injury cases, Friedman, Domiano & Smith assigns each client a case manager. Your case manager will monitor your treatment and answer any questions you may have. At any point during your case, you will be able to speak to an attorney about your case.
When you have reached a point where you and your doctor understand the full extent of your injuries, we will submit the claim for settlement with the driver’s insurance company. We have the resources necessary to help you prove a driver was drunk as well as the knowledge and experience to negotiate with the insurance company to recover maximum compensation on your behalf.
The insurance company may offer a fair settlement. If not, we will be prepared to litigate your case. Our reputation often leads to high-value settlements because insurance companies know that our attorneys are serious about going to trial. Rather than meet us in the courtroom, insurance companies and their lawyers often prefer to provide our clients with a full and fair settlement.
We are ready to help you defend your rights. Contact us today: 216-621-0070.
How Much is a Drunk Driving Accident Claim Worth?
The value of a drunk driving claim strongly depends on the damages suffered by the injury victim. While no two claims have identical facts, there are some overlapping similarities in the types of damages. For example, you may be able to recover compensation for the cost of your medical bills or repairs to your vehicle.
The amount of vehicle damage also factors into the value of a claim. The more damage your vehicle suffers, the more your claim is likely to be worth.
Our attorneys are prepared to review all the facts of your claim to determine what it may be worth. The consultation is free and there are no fees while we investigate and work on your claim.
What Damages May Be Available for a Drunk Driving Accident?
Just as any other motor vehicle accident claim, the damages that may be available in a drunk driving accident include economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Ambulatory services
- Diagnostic testing
- Imaging tests
- Hospital stays
- Doctors’ visits
- Chiropractic services
- Physical therapy
- Medical equipment
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial services
- Psychological services
- And more
In some cases, punitive damages may be available for a drunk driving accident as a form of punishment to the person whose gross negligence resulted in serious injury or death. It is important to note that punitive damages may only be awarded by a jury and are not paid by the insurance company, unlike other damages. This means you would need to file a lawsuit directly against the drunk driver, and he or she would need to have the available assets to pay for the punitive damages.
Who May Be Liable for My Damages?
Generally, fault for a drunk driving accident falls to the intoxicated driver who caused the collision. In these cases, the driver’s liability insurance would cover the cost of your damages. If your damages exceed the insurance policy’s limits, you may be able to seek compensation from your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
There may be a third party who could be held financially responsible for your damages under certain circumstances, such as a bar or restaurant.
Under Ohio’s Dram Shop Law, a person who has been injured by an intoxicated individual may be able to seek compensation for damages from an establishment that sells alcohol only if:
- The accident occurred while on the establishment’s property
- The establishment knowingly overserved alcohol to a noticeably intoxicated individual or person under 21 years of age
The Dram Shop Law only applies to vendors who are licensed to sell alcohol. Therefore, a person hosting a private gathering where alcohol is served is generally not liable for damages. The exception to this is when the host knowingly serves alcohol to anyone under 21 who then causes an accident. For example, the parents of a minor could be liable for your damages if you were injured by a teen driver who was served alcohol at a house party.
Is There a Time Limit to File a Lawsuit?
In Ohio, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit against a drunk driver is two years.
However, it would be in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible. That way he or she can start investigating and preserving the evidence needed to bolster your claim.
Building a strong case takes time, and the insurance company may not always comply with your demands unless you file a lawsuit. If you wait too long to contact a lawyer, it may be much harder to build a strong case and get a lawsuit filed before the two-year deadline. Waiting before contacting our Cleveland drunk driving lawyers can result in important evidence being destroyed or lost. If you miss the two-year deadline you could be barred from filing a lawsuit and recovering any compensation.
What is the Legal Limit for Alcohol in Ohio?
According to Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.19, anyone operating a vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley within state limits with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.08 is considered to be under the influence of alcohol and could face legal penalties, including but not limited to:
- Three days to six months of jail time, fines from $375 to $1,075, and a license suspension of one to three years for the first offense
- 10 days to six months of jail time, $525 to $1,625 in fines, and a license suspension of one to seven years for the second offense
- 30 days to one year in jail, $850 to $2,750 in fines, and a license suspension of two to 12 years for the third offense
For drivers who are under the age of 21, the legal blood-alcohol level under Ohio’s “Zero Tolerance” laws is 0.02. Commercial drivers are considered legally intoxicated if their blood-alcohol level is 0.04 or higher.
Drivers who have a blood-alcohol level above 0.17 can be subjected to greater fines and criminal penalties.
What Evidence Can Help Prove Drunk Driving?
As the injury victim in an accident, the burden of proving another driver’s negligence falls on you. There are various pieces of evidence that may be used to help you prove a driver was drunk and caused a crash that injured you.
Police Report or Testimony
If you suspect that another driver was drunk at the time of the crash, let the police officer on the scene know so it can be included in the police report about the accident.
Part of a police officer’s job at the scene of an accident is to conduct a preliminary investigation to help determine the cause of a crash. If he or she is made aware of possible intoxication, he or she may decide to conduct a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test to determine whether the driver is under the influence of alcohol.
However, it is important to note that the driver may refuse these tests. The police officer may still take note of the driver’s mannerisms, such as if he or she is slurring words or has a glazed-over look. The police officer’s testimony may be valuable to your case.
Witnesses to a car accident are important no matter what, but in a drunk driving case, they could significantly help validate your claim. Especially if an eyewitness testifies that the driver was swerving or driving erratically prior to the crash.
If the collision occurs close to the location where the intoxicated driver got drunk, an eyewitness may be able to confirm whether the alleged drunk driver was drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel.
Credit/Debit Card Statements
If you file a lawsuit, your attorney may be able to request bank or credit card statements from the alleged drunk driver to determine whether he or she was buying alcoholic beverages prior to the crash.
Gathering the necessary evidence to prove a drunk driver caused a collision may require resources most injury victims may not have readily available. Fortunately, our attorneys do and are prepared to use them to help you build a strong case against a drunk driver.
Call Friedman, Domiano & Smith for Legal Help Today
Driving drunk is simply unacceptable. When drunk drivers cause injuries in car accidents it can be devastating for the victims and their families.
Our attorneys understand the difficulties drunk driving accident victims are experiencing and are prepared to help protect your rights. For decades, Friedman, Domiano & Smith has successfully recovered millions in compensation on behalf of our clients through numerous settlements and courtroom verdicts.
We do not charge you any upfront fees while we work on your case. You only pay us when your case is closed and we have recovered compensation for you.
Schedule a free consultation today. Call: 216-621-0070.