Spokane Drunk Driving Accident AttorneyDespite decades of public education efforts in Spokane, driving under the influence of alcohol remains a common cause of accidents Spokane County. Drunk drivers actually put other people on the road in more danger than themselves, making the choice to drive after too many drinks is clearly wrong. Sadly, Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Driving Under the Influence (DUI) are both very common occurrences in Spokane. Even with increased public awareness and tougher laws, drunk driving continues to be the cause of serious injuries and fatalities in many types of moving vehicle accidents. They are not isolated to just people driving in cars. Types of drunk driving accidents can include the following:
Washington State Crime Victims CompensationIf you are a victim of a DUI/DWI injury you may be able to receive financial help through the Washington State Crime Victims Compensation Fund. This fund was created to help victims of crime. If you’re eligible, the fund may cover:
- medical/dental benefits
- Lost wages
- Medication coverage
- Mental health treatment
- Grief counseling
- Funeral expenses
Proving Negligence in a Drunk Driving CaseFor an injured person to have grounds for a lawsuit, they must be able to prove the driver of the vehicle was wholly or partially responsible for causing the accident. To make an accident claim, the injured victim will need to prove that:
- The driver of the car or truck had a duty to drive safely and use reasonable care.
- The driver of the car or truck breached that duty.
- The person who was hit was injured or harmed.
- The breach of duty was the proximate cause of the person’s injuries or damages.
Can I Sue a Drinking Establishment That Sold Alcohol to The Driver Who Hit Me?The Dram Shop Act is a case law which makes a business which sells alcoholic drinks or a host who serves liquor to a drinker who is obviously intoxicated or close to it, strictly liable to anyone injured by the drunken patron or guest. So the answer is yes you can sue a drinking establishment. However, the better questions to ask is “Does my case have the facts present to win a DRAM shop liability case?” This is something you’ll want to have reviewed by a lawyer. You have to prove that there were visible signs of intoxication and despite the warning signs the establishment or person continued to serve alcohol to the intoxicated person. These cases can be hard to prove, and evidence evaporates quickly, so if you think you have a claim, speak with a personal injury lawyer as soon as you can.
If The Driver is Proven to Have Been Intoxicated, Do I Automatically Win?No, you will not automatically win, but it will make your case much easier to win. If a person is proven to be intoxicated in violation of a statute, it can be argued to be negligence per se or negligence as a fact because of the violation of law. You still have to prove the other facts of your case, like your injuries were actually caused by the accident and the amount of your damages. The case will be easier but not automatic. These cases usually settle because juries don’t like drunk drivers and are likely to penalize them severely if the case goes to trial.
Steps You Should Take if Your Involved in a Drunk Driving AccidentIf you’ve been involved in a drunk driving accident it’s important to follow some basic steps in the minutes and days following the incident. To learn more about the steps below read 10 Steps You Should Take After an Automobile Accident.
- Stop Your Vehicle
- Check yourself for Injuries
- Check on the wellbeing of others
- Determine if you need to call the police
- Do not Implicate Yourself
- Exchange insurance and contact information
- Document your experience and gather evidence
- Track Expenses
- Notify your insurer and start the claims process
- Contact a personal injury attorney
Watch What You SayIn drunk driving accident cases it is not uncommon for insurance companies to want to reach out to you to try and settle your accident claim in advance of going to court. Through this maneuver, the insurance company is trying to get you to settle your claim for substantially less than what you rightly deserve. Even if you’re speaking to your insurance company, you should be careful what you say when filing an insurance claim. Insurance companies are not on your side and will look for any opportunity to devalue or deny your claim. The very people who are insuring you and who agree to pay you in the event of an accident are also the people who review your claim to see if you have grounds to recover compensation. It’s always best to have very limited conversations with the insurance company and let your attorney discuss any issues with them for you—that way you will be protected. To learn more read our articles on the 8 Things You Should Know About Insurance Companies and Notifying Your Insurance Company of An Automobile Accident.
Contact Spokane’s Personal Injury Attorney Robert HahnIf you or a loved one have been involved in a car accident caused by another driver’s reckless decision to drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs, please make sure to protect your rights and call Spokane’s Personal Injury Attorney Robert Hahn at (509)921-9500 for experienced, compassionate and aggressive representation. We’ve been helping people recover from injuries for over 20 years.
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The Law Office of Robert C. Hahn, III, P.S.
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