If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, you should consult with a car accident attorney to help you determine whether you can sue the driver. An attorney will be able to help you understand your rights and decide how to proceed with your claim.
At the law offices of Rand Spear, we have an in-depth understanding of all aspects of the law regarding car accident cases and can help you determine whether you can sue the drunk driver who caused your crash.
Your Auto Insurance Policy Affects Your Right to Sue
While many car accident cases are resolved through insurance companies, most states in the country do allow car crash victims the right to file a claim against a drunk driver who caused an accident.
However, Pennsylvania is one of a few states who employs no-fault laws that place restrictions on car accident victims’ rights to sue for damages. Pennsylvania’s laws require motorists to choose between two different types of auto insurance policies. One type upholds your right to sue and the other places restrictions on that right.
The two types of insurance are:
Limited Tort Insurance
With limited tort insurance, you are able to file a lawsuit against the drunk driver who caused your accident, however, you waive your right to recover damages for pain and suffering unless your injuries are considered serious.
There is a statute, called the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law, that defines serious injury as an injury that results in serious impairment of bodily functions, permanent and serious disfigurement, or death. However, there is not a specific list of serious injuries defined. Instead, the court determines whether your injuries qualify as serious. This is done on a case-by-case basis.
If the court determines that your injuries are indeed serious, then you are able to sue for pain and suffering damages, as well as lost wages and medical expenses related to your injuries.
With limited tort insurance, there are some exceptions to the restriction on recovering pain and suffering damages. For example:
- If the driver who caused your accident pleads guilty to driving drunk, or they are convicted of such, then you may be able to sue for pain and suffering.
- If you were not compensated by an insurance company, or if your insurance provider doesn’t cover the full amount of your expenses, you may be able to file a lawsuit.
Full Tort Insurance
If you opt for full tort insurance, which will cost you an average of 15% more than limited tort insurance then you have to right to bring a claim against the drunk driver who caused the crash. You lawyer can pursue financial compensation for you for all the damages that you sustained, including pain and suffering.
However, if the court finds that you were more than 50% at fault for the accident, Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law comes into play, and you will not be able to recover any damages. Comparative negligence also says that if you are found to be less than 50% at fault, you can recover damages, but the amount that you can receive will be reduced by the amount that you are at fault. In other words, if you are found to be 25% at fault, an award of $100,000 will become $75,000.
Don’t Delay in Filing Your Car Accident Lawsuit
In Pennsylvania, there is a statute of limitations on how long you have to file a lawsuit after being in a car accident. That means that there is a strict timeframe in which you have the right to sue for the expenses and pain and suffering you sustained in the accident. If the time runs out, then you could miss your chance to recover any damages.
In car accident and other personal injury cases, you have two years from the time of your injury to file a claim in Pennsylvania.
Contact Rand Spear Today
Being the victim of a drunk driver can be devastating to you and your family. So, it is important that you consult an attorney who will be prepared to analyze your specific situation, construct the best possible legal strategy, and advocate for you and your case.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, whether the driver was intoxicated or not, it’s in your best interests to contact car accident attorney, Rand Spear, to help you with your case. Your consultation and case evaluation are free, so you have nothing to lose and the compensation you deserve to gain.
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