Driving while intoxicated or drunk driving is prohibited in every U.S. state because of the risk it poses to the driver and others’ safety. Alcohol can significantly impair judgment, lower alertness, and diminish muscle coordination, increasing one’s accident risk, as the National Highway Safety and Transportation Administration (NHSTA) notes. A blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams to a deciliter is deemed unsafe for driving.
Despite the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol, the problem persists in North Carolina and other states. If you suffer severe injuries, substantial property damage, and in worst cases, fatalities, you can hold the errant driver liable for your damages. Consult a Raleigh drunk driving accident lawyer from Ben Crump Law, PLLC, to explore your legal options. Get in touch at (800) 598-7557 to speak with one of our team members.
Victims Have a Legal Right to Compensation
North Carolina considers driving while intoxicated or DWI a criminal offense under North Carolina General Statutes (GS) §20-138.1. Aside from license suspension, repeat offenders merit harsher punishments, including higher penalties and longer jail time. However, a conviction is not enough for those injured in a drunk driving accident.
A criminal penalty only serves to punish offenders for violating the law, but it does not offer financial relief to injured victims. That is why those harmed by the incident might want to consider putting forward a separate claim for civil damages at the intoxicated driver’s expense. It is your legal right to pursue compensation liable parties.
For drinking while intoxicated (DWI)-related car collisions, the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier will pay the damages, such as medical costs, lost earnings, vehicle repairs or replacement, and other out-of-pocket expenses incurred. Often, the compensation will be much lower than the policy’s limits. Pursuing a higher monetary payout than initially offered becomes possible through litigation.
A Raleigh drunk driving accident lawyer can help you navigate settlement negotiations with ease. Apart from offering low compensation, insurance carriers could also reject your request for recovery. Without a legal representative, you might not have the leverage for a favorable outcome.
For a free legal consultation with a drunk driving lawyer serving Raleigh, call 800-959-1444
Negligence as the Basis for Civil Liability
When you decide to pursue an injury claim, understand that you could receive damages if you can establish the other party’s liability for the accident. It is not enough that the driver was intoxicated when the incident happened—you must show how they are responsible for your injuries and damaged property.
Determining who is legally at fault has consequences on whose insurance will pay for the accident-related damages. It is crucial in at-fault states like North Carolina, where insurers would pay compensation only if their insured client caused the collision.
Proving liability in most car accident cases uses negligence as the underlying legal theory. It occurs when someone acts in a manner below the acceptable standard of care or against what a reasonably prudent person will do. A negligent party’s liability stems from their careless conduct. In DWI-related accidents, it is when a driver continues to operate a vehicle despite being under the influence of alcohol.
For your claim to be actionable, you must prove four essential elements—duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Simply because you have injuries does not automatically equate to a right to recovery.
In terms of duty, all drivers should operate their vehicles in a manner that will not harm others. It means following established road rules, which include driving sober. But if a drunk driver gets behind the wheel, it is a violation of the law and a breach of their duty to exercise reasonable care. To prove this fact, you must have evidence, such as blood-alcohol readings or admission of guilt.
For causation and damages, you must also demonstrate that you suffered injuries because of the at-fault driver’s behavior. You must prove their breach of duty—driving while intoxicated—caused actual harm to you. Near-misses or the lack of damages cannot hold the other party responsible for their actions.
A Raleigh drunk driving accident lawyer with Ben Crump Law, PLLC, can help you establish liability, depending on the evidence in your case. An attorney can also gather evidence and investigate surrounding circumstances to build a strong case for your claims. Call us today to schedule your free case evaluation and consider your next steps.
Raleigh Drunk Driving Lawyer Near Me 800-959-1444
Insurance Companies Might Pin the Blame on You
Injuries alone do not make your claim valid. Since the at-fault driver’s insurer will be required to pay the damages owed, it is not unusual for them to try to shift the blame on you, the victim. Negligence is the basis for liability, so if they can prove that you were also negligent, it will have significant consequences for you.
Insurance providers may raise the issue of contributory negligence during settlement negotiations. The idea stems from the fact that some accidents may be due to multiple parties’ negligent actions. If it were a two-vehicle collision involving a drunk driver, it could mean you are to blame as well.
North Carolina follows the principle of contributory negligence, which bars recovery from the other party. It does not allow you, the victim, to hold the intoxicated driver responsible for the resulting damages because you were negligent. Even if your degree of fault is relatively minimal, you cannot seek compensation.
Protect your legal right when you seek a Raleigh drunk driving accident lawyer who can work to ensure that clear-cut liability solely falls on those negligent and not you.
Understanding North Carolina’s Statute of Limitations
If you decide to pursue a claim against the drunk driver’s insurance policy, it is best to do it as soon as possible. However, the risk is that you may not receive enough compensation for injuries suffered. In this case, suing the at-fault party can be your next legal recourse.
In North Carolina, personal injury lawsuits have a three-year time limit, which starts running on the accident date. Under GS §1-52, the statute of limitations covers legal action that seeks relief for bodily injury or physical damage to property. When this time frame lapses, you likely will forfeit your legal right to financial recovery unless your situation is one of the few rare exceptions.
You can avoid the risk of missing the deadline when you work with a personal injury attorney. A Raleigh drunk driving accident lawyer from Ben Crump Law, PLLC, can help you navigate the legal process in your case. To get started, call (800) 598-7557 to schedule a free consultation with a team member.