Many individuals who suffer injuries in a crash caused by a drunk driver come to a painful crossroads. They’re suffering through mental, emotional, and physical ailments that make it difficult to work, study, or enjoy their lives with friends and family.
In addition, these victims often incur enormous medical bills and lost wages, which places their financial stability in jeopardy. While filing a lawsuit might not reverse the damage caused by the drunk driver’s reckless behavior, it can provide a sense of justice and help set them on the path to recovery.
Keep reading to learn more about how to determine liability in a drunk driving wreck and the proper steps to take when considering filing a personal injury lawsuit against the liable parties.
How to File a Drunk Driving Accident Claim
In most car wreck cases, especially those involving drunk drivers, the negligent driver’s insurance company will want to settle the claim as quickly as possible. They may even try to exploit your fragile post-crash mental state and bully you into giving them a statement or agreeing to a hasty settlement offer. Doing either of these things can compromise your rights and destroy your legal case, which is why you should never talk to an insurance adjuster without first consulting an experienced personal injury attorney.
If you decide to move forward with your claim after speaking with a lawyer, you should know that drunk driving crash cases differ from traditional auto accident claims. This is because all drunk driving cases involve a criminal trial. A criminal investigation and trial can help hold the drunk driver accountable, but the criminal process is separate from the civil claim you’re required to file if your goal is to receive financial compensation for damaged property, lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
In Oklahoma, victims are entitled to sue drunk drivers for their injuries but are required to prove fault. While this might seem simple based on the evidence compiled at the scene of the wreck, including the drunk driver’s blood alcohol level and witness testimony, insurance companies and defense attorneys have plenty of experience defending against drunk driving claims. They’ll work to refute the drunk driver’s negligence and cast doubt over who’s to blame for the accident.
This may seem unethical and immoral, but the defense’s job is to protect their client, and they’re very good at distracting from the issue: namely, that their client was intoxicated at the time of the crash and that the client’s drunkenness directly caused the wreck and your subsequent injuries.
Bars, Restaurants, and Liquor Stores Can Be Held Liable for Drunk Driving Wrecks
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the crash, you might be eligible to file suit against the establishment that served the driver alcohol or sold it to them.
Oklahoma law incorporates the theory of “dram shop liability,” which means individuals injured by drunk drivers can sue the bar, restaurant, or store that served those drivers. These establishments are considered negligent if they violate their legal obligation not to serve visibly intoxicated patrons, and victims can hold the establishments liable when such violations directly cause injuries.
According to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, behaviors that could constitute negligence on the part of a bar, restaurant, or store include:
- Not properly training employees
- Failing to keep a running tab to verify how much alcohol customers are drinking
- Not having a specific policy about how much alcohol can be served to customers
- Allowing intoxicated patrons to leave via a side exit
If you’re considering filing suit against the business that served the drunk driver who caused your car crash, you should speak with an experienced drunk driving accident attorney who can verify and prove the business violated their duty not to overserve customers.
Injured by a Drunk Driver in Oklahoma? Atkins & Markoff Is Here to Help
If you or someone you love has been injured by a drunk driver, you may be entitled to financial compensation under the law. These claims can become complicated quickly, however, so please contact Atkins and Markoff today and let us assess your case and inform you about your legal rights and options at no cost to you.
To schedule your free, no-obligation consultation, please call (405) 607-8757 or complete this brief form. The statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim in Oklahoma is two years from the date of the incident, so please don’t wait to contact us.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.