What Victims and Families Need to Know After Drunk Driving Accidents in Ohio
If you are dealing with the aftermath of a drunk driving accident in Ohio, you sadly are not alone. Each year, there are more than 13,000 alcohol-involved car accidents statewide. These accidents result in thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths annually—all of which are 100% avoidable.
When coping with a serious or fatal drunk driving accident in Ohio, it is important to have an experienced Columbus personal injury attorney on your side. There is a lot you need to know, and there are also a lot of mistakes you need to avoid. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to help you make informed decisions about protecting your family’s legal rights and will be able to fight to recover just compensation on your family’s behalf.
7 Important Facts for Drunk Driving Accident Victims and Their Families
Here are seven important facts for drunk driving accident victims and their families in Ohio:
1. Drunk Driving is Negligent Driving
The first thing you need to know is that drunk driving is negligent driving. If you or your loved one got hit by a drunk driver, you are entitled to just compensation under Ohio law. Drunk drivers can—and should—be held accountable for their mistakes, and Ohio law makes clear that victims and their families can file claims after alcohol-involved car accidents.
2. The Drunk Driver Should Have Auto Insurance
In most cases, recovering just compensation after a drunk driving accident starts with filing a claim under the drunk driver’s auto insurance policy. All drivers are required to carry liability insurance in Ohio, so the drunk driver should have coverage. If the drunk driver is underage and does not have coverage personally, his or her parents’ auto insurance policy may apply.
Even though drunk driving is clearly negligent, filing a successful auto insurance claim can still prove challenging. As a result, it is important to work with an experienced Columbus personal injury attorney throughout the process. Once you hire an attorney to represent you, your attorney can get to work gathering the evidence needed to prove liability and recover just compensation for your current and future losses.
3. You May Be Able to File a Claim Under Your Auto Insurance Policy
Under Ohio law, drivers are required to carry liability insurance with minimum coverage limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for collision-related injuries and fatalities. But, the costs of suffering serious injuries or losing a loved one too soon can far exceed these minimum coverage amounts. As a result, if the drunk driver who hit you or your loved one only has the minimum coverage required under Ohio law, you may need to work with your Columbus personal injury attorney to determine what other options you have available.
One of these options may involve filing a claim under your (or a family member’s) insurance policy. If you have access to uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, you can use this to help cover the costs of the drunk driver’s negligence. This coverage is not mandatory in Ohio, so you will need to review your coverage (or have your attorney review your coverage) to determine what claims you can file.
4. You May Also Have One or More “Third Party” Claims
In some cases, it will be possible to file a “third party” claim after a drunk driving accident as well. This is a claim against a party other than the drunk driver. Some examples of potential third-party claims in drunk driving accident cases include:
- A claim against a bar, restaurant or liquor store that sold alcohol to a drunk driver
- A claim against a “social host” who allowed an underage driver to drink alcohol
- A claim against the drunk driver’s employer if he or she was working at the time of the collision
Again, these are just examples. From a claim against a vehicle manufacturer for a brake failure to a claim against a government agency for a road defect, there are several other possibilities when it comes to third-party claims following drunk driving accidents. When you hire an experienced Columbus drunk driving accident attorney to represent you, your lawyer will examine all potential claims and seek to recover maximum compensation on your behalf.
5. A Drunk Driving Conviction Won’t Result in Just Compensation for You and Your Family
While a drunk driving conviction may lead to fines and jail time for the drunk driver, it won’t result in just compensation for you and your family. In Ohio, the civil and criminal justice systems are completely separate. Regardless of the outcome of the drunk driver’s criminal case, you will need to hire an attorney to help you and your family recover just compensation.
6. The Lifetime Costs of a Drunk Driving Accident Can Be Substantial
When it comes to “just compensation,” the costs of suffering serious injuries or losing a loved one too soon can be substantial. In Ohio, accident victims and their families are entitled to just compensation for their current and future financial and non-financial losses. Before you make any decisions about your next steps, you should speak with a Columbus personal injury attorney to find out how much you are entitled to recover.
7. You Can Hire a Columbus Personal Injury Attorney at No Out of Pocket Cost
While drunk driving accidents can be incredibly costly, it costs nothing out of pocket to hire a Columbus personal injury attorney. Your attorney will provide representation on a contingency fee basis, which means that you pay nothing unless your attorney helps you and your family secure a settlement or verdict.
Talk to a Columbus Personal Injury Attorney for Free
If you need to know more about protecting your legal rights after a drunk driving accident in Ohio, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free, no-obligation consultation. To speak with an experienced Columbus personal injury attorney in confidence as soon as possible, please call 888-444-7440 or tell us how we can reach you online now.