If you’re in a car accident where the other driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you have a very good chance of getting compensation for any injuries stemming from the crash, and you will probably be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the offender. But if you live in a no-fault state, your path to a lawsuit won’t be as easy.
Before you race to the courthouse and file your lawsuit, it may be best to start by talking settlement with the other driver’s insurance company. In every state, drivers are required to carry a certain minimum amount of car insurance. And, if you file a third-party claim against the drunk driver’s car insurance carrier, letting them know you intend to seek full compensation for your injuries and losses resulting from the accident, you may be surprised at the settlement offer you receive.
There are very few scenarios where insurance companies will bend over backwards to avoid a lawsuit, but a surefire one is when their insured in convicted of DUI or DWI in connection with a car accident. Insurance companies know that, if the lawsuit against their insured goes to trial and a jury is allowed to decide on a monetary award for a sympathetic plaintiff who has been hit by a drunk driver, they’re going to end up paying through the proverbial nose. So an injury settlement, even one that is on the high end, is in their best interest.
If you live in one of the dozen or so states that follow no-fault car insurance rules, your options will be more limited, at least at the outset. You’ll need to turn to your own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to get your medical bills paid, even though the drunk driver was at fault for the accident. But every no-fault state also has a threshold which, allows an injured person to pursue a liability claim or personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. If your injuries meet your state’s definition of "serious injuries," or your medical bills are high enough, you can step outside the confines of the no-fault system.