Being involved in a drunk driving accident can be a traumatic and life-altering experience. In Pennsylvania, as in many other states, drunk driving accidents carry serious legal consequences for both the impaired driver and the innocent victims. If you or a loved one has been involved in such an unfortunate incident, it is essential to understand your rights and legal options. This article aims to provide comprehensive answers to frequently asked questions if you have been hit by a drunk driver.
1. What should I do immediately after a drunk driving accident in Pennsylvania?
After a drunk driving accident, your immediate safety and well-being should be your top priorities. Follow these steps:
- Call for emergency medical assistance if anyone is injured.
- Report the accident to the police and cooperate fully with them.
- Collect information from all parties involved, including names, contact details, and insurance information.
- Document the scene by taking photos and noting down any relevant details.
- Refrain from discussing fault or making any statements to the other party's insurance company without consulting an attorney.
2. How does Pennsylvania handle drunk driving accidents compared to other states?
Pennsylvania has strict laws and penalties for drunk driving. If a driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher, they can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI). Additionally, Pennsylvania has an "implied consent" law, meaning drivers are required to submit to a chemical test if lawfully arrested for suspicion of DUI. Refusal to take the test may lead to a license suspension.
3. Are drunk driving accidents considered a crime in Pennsylvania?
Yes, drunk driving accidents are considered crimes in Pennsylvania. Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense, and it becomes even more severe if the accident results in injuries or fatalities. Drunk drivers may face criminal charges and penalties, such as fines, license suspension, probation, and even imprisonment.
4. Can I file a lawsuit against the drunk driver for my injuries?
Yes, if you were injured in a drunk driving accident in Pennsylvania, you have the right to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the drunk driver. By doing so, you may be able to recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the accident.
5. Can I seek punitive damages in a drunk driving accident lawsuit?
Yes, Pennsylvania law allows victims of drunk driving accidents to seek punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish the drunk driver for their reckless behavior and serve as a deterrent to others. However, obtaining punitive damages typically requires a higher burden of proof and is subject to specific legal considerations.
6. What if the drunk driver has no insurance or is underinsured?
If the drunk driver responsible for the accident has insufficient or no insurance coverage, you may face challenges in recovering damages. However, you can explore other potential sources of compensation, such as your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Consulting an experienced attorney can help you navigate these complex situations and maximize your chances of receiving adequate compensation.
7. Is there a deadline for filing a drunk driving accident lawsuit in Pennsylvania?
Yes, Pennsylvania has a two-year statute of limitations that restricts the time within which you can file a lawsuit. For personal injury claims resulting from a drunk driving accident, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. Failing to meet this deadline may bar you from seeking compensation through the courts.
8. Should I accept a settlement offer from the insurance company?
Before accepting any settlement offer from the insurance company, it's essential to consult with a personal injury attorney. Insurance companies may try to offer a low settlement to minimize their costs. An experienced attorney can assess the true value of your claim, negotiate on your behalf, and ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries and losses.
9. Can I still recover damages if I was partly at fault for the accident?
Pennsylvania follows a "comparative negligence" system. This means that if you were not more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, you may still recover damages. However, your compensation will be reduced proportionally to your percentage of fault. Having an experienced attorney can help determine your level of fault and protect your rights during negotiations or trial.
10. Should I speak to an attorney after a drunk driving accident, even if I am not seriously injured?
Yes, it is advisable to consult an experienced personal injury attorney, regardless of the severity of your injuries. A knowledgeable attorney can help protect your rights, gather crucial evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent your best interests throughout the legal process.
Experiencing a drunk driving accident in Pennsylvania can be a distressing experience, but understanding your rights and legal options can make a significant difference in the aftermath. Seeking the assistance of a reputable law firm with experience handling drunk driving accident cases is crucial for navigating the complexities of the legal system and ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve. Remember to act promptly and consult an attorney to protect your rights and begin the path to recovery.
Contact van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim Today for a Free Consultation About Your Drunk Driving Accident
If you or a loved one have been a victim of a drunk driving accident in Pennsylvania, van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim is here to provide the legal support and guidance you need. With a proven track record of successfully representing accident victims, our law firm has a deep understanding of the complexities surrounding drunk driving cases.
In Pennsylvania, dram shop liability is a crucial aspect of drunk driving accident cases. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling these complex cases, holding establishments accountable for over-serving patrons who later cause accidents. If a bar, restaurant, or any establishment provided alcohol to an already intoxicated individual, contributing to the accident, we will diligently pursue compensation from all responsible parties.
Don't let a drunk driving accident derail your life. Take the first step toward justice and compensation by contacting van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim today. Our dedicated team is ready to fight tirelessly on your behalf, ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve. Your road to recovery starts here. Contact us today for a free consultation.