While people often associate intoxication with alcohol consumption, people can be intoxicated by both controlled and prescription drugs. In either case, it is illegal to operate a vehicle in Pennsylvania while under the influence.
If you were struck by an intoxicated motorist, you should speak with a compassionate injury attorney about filing a claim for damages. A Montgomery County drunk driver accident lawyer could ensure you receive full and complete recovery for the losses you suffered as a result of the negligent party.
Limited Tort Exceptions for Intoxicated Driver Wrecks
Auto insurance in Pennsylvania is separated into full and limited tort. When a person chooses full tort, that allows them to seek all non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. However, limited tort coverage only allows a person to recover for catastrophic injury or damaged bodily functions. Fortunately, there are some exceptions to this.
If a person is hit by a drunk driver who is convicted of DUI, pleads guilty, or is placed in a diversionary program, then their insurance coverage becomes full tort, regardless if they chose the limited tort option. This allows them to seek full coverage for their non-economic losses suffered in the vehicle wreck.
What Damages are Available in a Drunk Driving Collision?
A seasoned lawyer representing someone injured in an auto collision caused by an intoxicated driver could make an argument for three types of damages. This includes the common economic and non-economic compensation, as well as punitive damages.
Economic damages compensate a claimant for their out-of-pocket expenses, including lost wages, medical bills, and property damage. Non-economic losses cover intangible harm, such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, or loss of consortium. These damages aim to make a plaintiff whole again after suffering harm.
Punitive damages are not designed to compensate the plaintiff, but rather punish the defendant for egregious wrongdoing. As drunk driving is illegal and extremely negligent, a well-practiced lawyer could usually make an argument for punitive damages in these cases.
Civil Versus Criminal Litigation in Montgomery County
A unique aspect of car accidents caused by drunk drivers is that the defendant often faces both civil and criminal litigation. These cases are completely separate, but a criminal case could be beneficial for an injured claimant.
While a claimant cannot receive financial compensation from a criminal case, if the defendant is convicted of a DUI, a Montgomery County attorney could use that as proof of negligence in a civil case. For this reason, it is often beneficial for a person filing a civil claim against a drunk driver to stay informed on the separate criminal case.
Discuss Drunk Driver Accidents with a Montgomery County Attorney
Filing a claim for damages can be difficult on your own, especially when the defendant was intoxicated at the time of the accident. These cases have many nuances that can be missed without the experienced guidance of a seasoned legal professional.
If you were struck by an intoxicated motorist, do not hesitate to contact a Montgomery County drunk driver accident lawyer. Call our office today to schedule your first case consultation for free.