Anyone involved in a car accident knows that it is a shocking and frightening experience. It is common to feel surprise at the initial impact, concern that you, those you love, and others may be injured, and frustration when the reality of the financial expenses that come with medical bills, a new vehicle and missed work set in. After taking a moment to catch one’s breath and getting medical care for anyone who is in need, those who are involved in a car accident are wise to gather information from the other driver, like their name, contact information and proof of insurance as well as the names of others who witnessed the accident.
But what happens if while you are gathering this information you smell alcohol on the other driver? What if you are fairly certain the other driver is drunk? If the other driver is drunk, they may have increased liability for the accident.
How do you establish that the other driver was responsible for the crash?
When working to establish that the other, likely drunk driver was responsible for the accident, the victim generally needs to establish these four elements of negligence:
- Duty. First, that the driver had a duty to operate the vehicle with care. In most cases, this is established by the mere fact the driver chose to drive as all drivers owe everyone around them this duty.
- Breach. Next, that the driver violated this duty. Speeding, driving while intoxicated and failing to follow the basic rules of the road can serve as evidence to establish this claim.
- Cause. The victim will also need to show that the other driver’s failure to meet the duty to drive safely caused the accident and that the accident caused the injuries. Injuries can include both those to the individuals within the vehicle along with anyone else injured in the accident as well as the expense to repair or replace the vehicle and additional expenses that result from the accident.
- Damage. Finally, the victim will need to prove the injuries. This can include copies of medical bills, repair shop expenses and missed work.
It is likely insurance companies will push to settle the claim. Although this can be beneficial, it is important to fight for a fair settlement. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to attempt to settle at a much lower rate than the injured party deserves.