Driving under the influence (DUI) auto accident lawsuits are probably one of the most common types of accident-injury lawsuits in Pennsylvania. Individuals who are injured in accidents caused by a drunk driver have the legal right to be compensated for their injuries and financial losses.
In a DUI car accident lawsuit in Pennsylvania, the injured party (plaintiff) can make a claim for all losses which flow from the accident and injuries. This includes medical bills (not otherwise covered by PIP), lost wages and other economic expenses.
In addition, most DUI accident victims in Pennsylvania can make a claim for pain and suffering against the at-fault driver. Whether a DUI accident victim can make a claim for pain and suffering depends on the victim’s own car insurance policy election (limited tort versus full tort) and whether the at-fault driver is convicted of a DUI offense or otherwise completes an alternative disposition program for first time offenders. Pennsylvania auto accident law is very complex, especially when it comes to lawsuits for DUI car accidents, and so it is important to get advice from a lawyer about your specific case.
Determining All Parties Who Can Be Sued
This is probably one the most important legal issues which must be resolved before it can be determined whether a DUI auto accident victim can obtain financial recovery. In many DUI car accident cases, especially ones which result in major injuries, parties other than the drunk driver may be held liable.
The typical example involves a minor who is served alcohol at a bar or a house party. The bar owner or home owner may be liable for negligence, and therefore joined as a party. Basically, both the drunk driver and the bar owner or home owner would be sued. Below is a discussion of two scenarios and the financial compensation available to a DUI car accident victim in PA.
Related: DUI Accidents in Philadelphia – Is the Bar/Restaurant Liable?
Scenario 1 – Drunk Driver is the Only Party
A drunk driver causes a two car crash and seriously injures the other driver. That driver may make a claim against the drunk driver. The drunk driver’s auto insurance policy would kick in and provide a guaranteed source of financial recovery, assuming the lawsuit is successful. If the drunk driver has an auto policy with the bare minimum limits, which in PA is $15,000, it is very likely the injured driver would only be able to obtain $15,000 from the at-fault driver. That is, unless the at-fault driver has independent funds to pay a larger judgment or settlement. However, the reality is that most people with large funds available to them at their disposal do not carry minimum auto insurance policies. In this type of scenario, if the injured driver has UIM coverage, they may be able to make a claim under their own insurance policy to obtain UIM benefits. Read more about UIM benefits in PA.
Scenario 2 – Bar/Restaurant is Also Liable
Using the same scenario, the driver was served alcohol at a local bar/restaurant. There is evidence to show that the driver was continuously served alcohol despite appearing heavily intoxicated. In this instance, the bar/restaurant would probably face liability for violating Pennsylvania’s alcohol service laws (dram shop laws). The injured driver would be able to make a claim against both the drunk driver and the bar/restaurant. Most commercial businesses have insurance which operates much like auto insurance. If the bar/restaurant is found liable, the commercial insurance policy kicks in and provides a source of financial compensation for the injured driver.
If you or a loved one was injured in a DUI car accident in Pennsylvania, please call our alcohol accident and liability lawyers at (866) 641-0806.
**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.
Page last updated: October 7, 2016