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What if I’m hit by a drunk driver?

You’ve been in a car crash caused by a driver who was drinking. What happens next?

Well, in addition to all of the usual claims that come with a car crash injury, you’ve got some new ones. You’ll still make your claims against the impaired driver and his or her insurance company for medical expenses, lost wages (if any), pain and suffering, and so on. If you have underinsured motorist coverage (and I highly recommend you get some if you don’t), you can still make claims on that policy. In addition to the normal avenues for recovery, you might also have a claim for damages against the bar or restaurant that served drinks to the at-fault driver under certain circumstances.

Obviously, driving while intoxicated is a crime in Kentucky and elsewhere. The at-fault driver’s intoxication should make at least part of your claim for damages easier, that being proving liability. The at-fault driver’s use of a vehicle after drinking could mean he or she is negligent per se, or as a matter of law, because they’re proven to have violated a criminal statute. What’s more, if the case goes to trial, juries generally don’t like drinking drivers, for obvious reasons.

That doesn’t remove need to prove your damages, of course. Injuries and the fallout from those have to be related to the car crash for you to recover them, and insurance companies and their hired guns will still do all they can to minimize those, even if their driver was drunk.

Getting back to the bar or restaurant where the at-fault driver was drinking before the crash. Kentucky law states that businesses or people licensed to sell or serve intoxicating beverages to people over 21 aren’t liable for any injury suffered off the premises caused by that person unless a reasonable person under the same or similar circumstances should know that the person served is already intoxicated at the time of serving.

In other words, if the person at the bar or restaurant knew or should have known that their customer, the at-fault driver, was already drunk, and served them again anyway, they can be held liable. Otherwise, you might not have a claim. What’s more, if the at-fault driver got drunk at their house, or a friend’s house, or at a party, the person they got their drinks from can’t be held liable unless they’re also licensed by the state to sell alcohol. Not a likely scenario.

If you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, you need experienced legal advice. We’ve got it – give us a call at 502-633-6002 for a free consultation.