If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you are not alone. In 2020, the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles reported that 11,475 alcohol-involved crashes occurred and 7,426 people were injured because of those crashes. You shouldn’t have to pay for injuries that are no fault of your own. A personal injury attorney can assist you in recovering compensation from the at-fault driver. Call us today and our team will assess your case and assist you in pursuing financial compensation.
Filing a civil action against the drunk driver
Driving while intoxicated is a criminal offense; however that does not preclude you from seeking damages in a civil case. The civil and criminal courts work separately. You don’t have to wait for the outcome of a criminal case to file a civil case seeking damages. In fact, you shouldn’t wait. Personal injury claims in North Carolina must be brought within three years of the date of injury. Depending on the severity of your injuries, a civil action may be your best option for recovery. In a civil action, you can seek compensatory and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are awarded for economic and non-economic costs. Economic and non-economic costs can include medical bills and rehabilitative recovery costs, as well as payment for mental or physical pain and suffering.
Punitive damages are additional damages designed to “punish” the driver for their actions. In North Carolina, punitive damages are typically capped at $250,000. However, under North Carolina Statute §1D-26, punitive damages are not capped when the punitive damages for injury or harm that result from the at-fault driver, driving while impaired. Punitive damages are awarded by the jury.
Social Host Liability and Dram Shop Law
In addition to recovering from the at-fault driver, others may be liable for your injuries. First, you may be able to pursue an action against a homeowner who over-served a visibly intoxicated driver. This type of liability is called North Carolina’s Social Host Liability Law. Under Social Host Liability, you and your attorney can present evidence to prove that:
1) the host served or provided the alcohol,
2) the host knew or should have known the person being served was intoxicated, and
3) the host knew the person would be diving after being served alcohol.
If the driver is a minor, then you may be able to pursue a claim against an alcohol vendor, like a bar or restaurant, under Dram Shop Liability. Compensation may be capped under Social Host Liability and Dram Shop Law.
Call our team of personal injury attorneys today
If you or a loved one are injured because of a drunk driving accident, call us today and one of our personal injury attorneys will review your case.