Sadly, despite society’s collective best efforts, every day thousands of individuals throughout the country make the decision to drive while intoxicated. In Pennsylvania, you may not operate a vehicle if you have a blood alcohol level in excess of .08%, or .04% if you are operating a commercial vehicle such as a truck or bus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), 4,663 people were killed between 2003 and 2012 in crashes involving a drunk driver in Pennsylvania. In the year 2014, 33% of the motor vehicle related fatalities that occurred in Pennsylvania were alcohol-related. These are shocking numbers.
Our Philadelphia drunk driving accident lawyers have aggressively pursued cases against drunk drivers who have caused injuries in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. Our track record speaks for itself.
Can I Sue A Drunk Driver If I Am Injured In A Car Accident?
Yes, you can still pursue a lawsuit against a drunk driver who was at fault in causing a car or motorcycle accident. The fact that the person driving the other car was drunk at the time of the car accident does not, in and of itself, establish that the individual was at fault in causing the accident, however, in almost all instances, it winds up being the case that the drunk driver is legally deemed to be at fault.
Can I Recover Punitive Damages Against A Drunk Driver?
Yes, the fact that the other driver was drunk at the time of the crash may have a significant impact on your case. You may be able to pursue a claim for punitive damages against a drunk driver.
Punitive damages represent money that a judge or jury may award in addition to compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages and other economic damages. Punitive damages may only be awarded in cases where the defendant deliberately fails to act or acts in conscious disregard, or indifference to a significant risk of harm to others.
The defendant’s conduct must be outrageous, and run contrary to society’s norms. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant and deter the defendant and others from doing the same thing in the future.
While the standard is high, punitive damages have been awarded in drunk driving cases. This is because the conduct of getting behind the steering wheel and driving while intoxicated is exactly the type of outrageous conduct that demonstrates a reckless indifference to the safety of other that our courts have held justifies an award of punitive damages.
Does The Fact That The Other Driver Was Drunk Affect My Limited Tort Status?
Yes, if you selected the limited tort option when you purchased car insurance or would otherwise be deemed to be limited tort at the time of the accident. You will nonetheless still be able to recover for pain and suffering regardless of whether you sustained a “serious injury,” under the law if the defendant is convicted of drunk driving or accepts ARD.
In other words, drunk driving is one of the exceptions to limited tort status in Pennsylvania so that if you are involved in a car accident with a defendant who is convicted or drunk driving or accepts ARD you are automatically deemed to be full tort for purposes of your lawsuit against the defendant.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), 4,663 people were killed between 2003 and 2012 in crashes involving a drunk driver in Pennsylvania.
Can I Pursue A Claim Against The Bar That Served The Drunk Driver Who Hit Me?
Yes, in certain circumstances. Under the Pennsylvania Dram Shop Law, 47 P.S. § 493, it is illegal for an establishment possessing a liquor license, like a bar or restaurant, to serve an individual who is “visibly intoxicated.”
If a bar or restaurant serves an individual who is visibly intoxicated and that person is then at fault in causing a car accident, the bar or restaurant may be held legally responsible for all injuries or damages stemming from its decision to serve the visibility intoxicated person.
This is often significant because many times the bar or restaurant involved will have far greater assets and insurance than the individual who may have actually been guilty of drunk driving. This will allow you to receive full compensation for your injuries instead of having to settle for the individual defendant’s insurance policy limits or obtaining a jury verdict that you cannot collect against the individual because he or she does not have assets or insurance to pay it.
Proving that someone was visibly intoxicated is often difficult. Eyewitness testimony is particularly essential, and expert witness testimony is usually required as well. It is for this reason that it is extremely important to contact an experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyer as soon as possible following an accident with a drunk driver. The attorney can then get to work tracking down leads and information that will be necessary to prove your case. Most bars and restaurants have video surveillance systems installed today.
Most of these systems only save the information they record for a short time period. Once you hire us, our skilled dram shop lawyers will request that this crucial evidence be preserved. Frequently the surveillance videos will show the bartender or waiter/waitress serving the drunk driver while he or she was visibly intoxicated, which can be the difference between winning and losing a case against the bar or restaurant.
Our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers have the experience necessary to handle dram shop cases and will aggressively pursue information regarding the bar/restaurant’s compliance with the Pennsylvania Liquor Code including certification and Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP) training, and the bar/restaurant internal policies regarding service to visibly intoxicated persons.
Bartenders and severs should be properly trained to spot individuals who are visibly intoxicated and need to make responsible decisions regarding when to stop serving an individual who is visibly intoxicated. When they do not do so and that individual causes serious injury or death, the bar/restaurant should be held accountable for their actions.
Contact a Philadelphia Alcohol-Related Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident with a drunk driver, contact the personal injury lawyers at Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC today for a free consultation or call (215) 875-7030. We can help-you just need to call.