Drunk Driving Accidents
St. Paul Auto Accident Lawyer
Alcohol-related automobile accidents remain a significant problem in Minnesota and throughout the country. In all states drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher are considered to be alcohol-impaired under the law. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety reports that in 2019 there were 4113 automobile crashes in the state involving alcohol-impaired drivers. These crashes resulted in 114 deaths, 2,176 injuries, and resulted in economic losses in excess of $1.87 billion dollars. Approximately one in three traffic deaths in the United States involves a drunk driver.
If you have been injured in an automobile collision involving a drunk driver in Minnesota or Wisconsin, the O’Dea Law Firm is ready to assist you. Mr. O’Dea has experience in all aspects of drunk driving claim representation. He will quickly investigate the circumstances surrounding your accident and will determine what claims can be pursued on your behalf.
The first claim that is typically pursued on behalf of an injured client is a liability/negligence claim against the drunk driver. If the drunk driver carries automobile insurance that person will have liability coverage up to the available policy limits that can be pursued. The drunk driver’s insurer will also provide defense representation to its insured. If the drunk driver does not have insurance coverage, then a claim can be brought against the injured party’s automobile insurer for what is called uninsured motorist coverage.
Also, in Minnesota a no-fault insurance claim would be made against the injured party’s own automobile insurer for medical benefits, wage loss, and replacement services. Other insurance claims may be brought depending on available coverages and the extent of one’s injuries and other damages.
In addition, if it is determined that the drunk driver was illegally served alcohol by a commercial liquor vendor(s), Minnesota law also allows for a separate claim to be brought against the liquor vendor(s) under Minnesota’s Civil Damages Act (Dram Shop Act). Strict time limits exist for notifying a liquor vendor of a potential dram shop claim, and when commencing suit against such an establishment. Claims may also exist against individuals with provide or serve alcohol to underage individuals who are then involved in accidents.
Lastly, as is frequently the case, if by clear and convincing evidence it can be shown that the drunk driver’s conduct constitutes a deliberate disregard for the rights and safety of others, the injured party can bring a motion to the court seeking to allow a claim for punitive (penalty) damages against the wrongdoer. If there is evidence of a drunk driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) being above the legal limit of 0.08%, or evidence of an impaired driver being under the influence of a controlled substance, the punitive damages standard will likely be met. Other actions by the drunk driver may also give rise to a claim for punitive damages. Usually, the drunk driver’s automobile insurance will not provide coverage for any assessed punitive damages which then become the personal payment responsibility of the drunk driver.
Insurance companies that insure drunk or impaired drivers will act quickly and aggressively to try to limit their monetary damage exposure. It is important that those injured by the actions of a drunk or impaired driver quickly secure attorney representation so as to preserve their rights and potential claims evidence.
Contact Richard O’Dea – A St. Paul Personal Injury Attorney
If you, a family member, or friend have been injured due to the actions of a drunk or impaired driver, contact the O’Dea Law Firm for a free initial consultation.