The Fastest, Easiest Way to Get Personal Injury Help

We Connect You - 1000's of Injury & Accident Victims With Attorneys

We Inform You - FAQs, Lawyer Directory, Specific Claim & Accident Topics

Hit by a drunk driver, what are my legal rights?

According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, every day in America 28 people die as a result of drunken driving crashes, and that doesn't include the hundreds more who are injured. Recently on our legal forum a user asked, "If I have been hit and injured by a drunk driver what are my legal rights?"

If you have been injured due to the negligence of another driver you may have the right to compensation for your injuries. Car accidents, however, can be a bit complicated. Some states allow drivers to sue for compensation by filing a car accident injury lawsuit while others do not. Whether or not you have this right, however, will depend on your state's laws and the seriousness or cost of your injuries.

No-Fault States and car accidents

If you live in a no-fault state generally the insurance company for each driver will compensate each driver for their car accident injuries and the cost of property damage, regardless of who caused the accident.

Currently 12 states and Puerto Rico have no-fault auto insurance laws. Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania have verbal thresholds. Verbal thresholds allow drivers to sue the other guilty driver if there is a death, dismemberment, loss of fetus, significant disfigurement, significant scarring, displaced fracture, or permanent injury.

The other seven states including Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota and Utah use a monetary threshold.

No-fault state does the Other Driver's Insurance Ever Pay?

There are circumstances in a no-fault state when an injured driver may not meet the verbal or monetary threshold but they may still have the right to file a lawsuit against another person's auto insurance policy. Although all monetary damages, including property damage and medical expenses, will be paid by each driver's insurance policy, if the driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident the injured driver may have the right to sue the insurance company for pain and suffering.

At-fault states and car accidents

At-fault states differ from no-fault states. In an at-fault state the insurance companies will determine which driver was at-fault for the car accident, and the at-fault driver's insurance company will be responsible for paying the costs for the other driver, including costs for property loss, lost wages, and medical expenses.

Drivers generally will negotiate with the insurance company for a settlement amount. There are times, however, when the settlement offered is not sufficient to cover the injured driver's expenses or loss.

If the insurance company refuses to negotiate in good faith or there has been serious injury or death it may be a good idea to discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer.

If your injuries are the result of the negligent or reckless actions of a drunk driver and you live in an at-fault state the injured driver also has the right to sue for compensation. The driver may not only be charged with a criminal charge, but the injured driver can file a civil suit against them. It is also possible to win a civil suit even if the driver is not convicted of a crime.