What Are Your Rights to Compensation if You Have Been Injured in a Car Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver in Middleton, MA?
Drunk driving is a heavily penalized criminal offense in Middleton, Massachusetts. If someone has been convicted of drunk driving causing a serious injury, they can face severe criminal charges and penalties, including up to 10 years behind bars. While the drunk driver is punished, however, it does little for the victim who was injured by that drunk driver. An injury victim of a drunk driver may need to pursue their own personal injury case in civil court to be compensated for their injuries.
How Criminal Charges Differ From Civil Claims
The criminal court system and civil court system are different in how they operate. In the criminal system, the state or federal government will bring charges against an offender with the express purpose of punishing them. In the civil court system, a victim can be compensated for the losses caused by a negligent party in order to be made “whole” again. Instead of criminal punishment, the drunk driver can be ordered to compensate the victim for the harm they caused.
Your Options as an Injured Party
If you were injured by a drunk driver, you have two legal options to recover compensation for your injuries. These can either be through an insurance claim or a civil lawsuit against the at-fault party. In most cases, pursuing an insurance claim will be the first and usually most productive route. But because Massachusetts is a no-fault state, an injured party must look to their own insurance policy first for medical benefits for their injuries.
If your costs or injuries exceed Massachusetts’ threshold, you may also have the ability to pursue compensation from the at-fault drunk driver. While a drunk driving charge is a criminal offense, it is also considered a matter of negligence.
The Potential Pitfalls of a Lawsuit
If you have been seriously injured because of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to file a liability claim against the at-fault drunk driver and hold them liable for your damages.
But MA law only requires a minimum of $20,000 of liability coverage for each injured party. Unfortunately, medical costs for these accidents can range from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even if the drunk driver is legally insured, $20,000 can be vastly inadequate to cover all the medical expenses of an injured victim. In many cases, these drivers generally have few personal assets to go after in a lawsuit.
Fault Still Matters
While Massachusetts is a no-fault state, fault still matters in cases of liability. MA follows a modified comparative fault rule, meaning that if you are more than 50% at fault for the accident, you won’t be able to recover damages. 50% fault and under, your damages will be reduced by the percentage of your fault.
Other Potential Resources for Compensation
In Massachusetts, businesses and social hosts can be held accountable for serving/overserving individuals when that person has caused an injury to someone else.
Although MA doesn’t have a specific dram shop law, under MGL c. 138 section 69, a business can be sued for over-serving someone who is visibly intoxicated. Bars, restaurants, and other establishments are responsible for refusing to serve alcohol to a patron who is intoxicated and can be held liable when the individual causes an accident that results in injury.
Social host liability is a criminal charge. When an individual serves alcohol to guests, they assume the responsibility of monitoring consumption and preventing these guests from drinking and driving and injuring someone. They may also be held accountable if they have allowed underage individuals to consume alcohol on their property and that behavior has led to an accident and injuries.
Getting the Assistance of an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Middleton, MA
If you have been injured by a drunk driver, getting adequate compensation for your injuries can be complicated. Insurance companies often work in direct opposition to your goals of getting compensated. If you have been seriously injured in an accident with an intoxicated driver, getting the guidance of an experienced Middleton, MA personal injury attorney is critical to ensure that you get the benefits you deserve.
At Ged Lawyers, LLP, we have dedicated our career to helping victims get fairly compensated for their injuries. Call us at (561) 562-4170, toll free at (844) – 4GEDLAW (844,443-3529), or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.