Portland Drunk Driving Accidents
Portland’s full of exciting clubs and hotspots to go out and blow off steam. While there’s nothing wrong with going out for an evening of drinks with friends, getting behind the wheel of a car after you’ve been drinking is another matter. Drunk driving is not only against the law – it shows a reckless disregard for yourself, as well as other drivers and even pedestrians. Drunk drivers put themselves and everyone else in their path in danger. Injuries caused by drunk drivers can be serious and often life-threatening.
With drunk driving being an ever present worry in people’s minds, we created the following visual highlighting common behaviors of drunk drivers on the road and how to go about spotting and reporting them to help keep our Oregon roads safer.
Injured by a Drunk Driver? Contact Us
At the Johnston Law Firm, we believe that drunk drivers should be held liable for all of the pain, suffering, and financial losses that they cause in accidents. With the help of an experienced drunk driving attorney, you can obtain the full amount of compensation possible in your case and find a sense of justice. Call our firm at (503) 546-3167 today and schedule a free consultation with an experienced accident lawyer.
Insurance Claims Against Drunk Drivers
When you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you do have several options in terms of dealing with insurance companies. Automobile insurance company claims involving drunk drivers can be filed either with the at fault driver’s insurance company, as well as with your own. Car insurance will typically cover the following:
- Medical expenses;
- Property damages; and
- Pain and suffering, in some cases.
To collect from the other driver’s insurance carrier, they will need to be covered through liability insurance, with no exclusion clauses pertaining to coverage for accidents related to DUI or DWI charges. If the other driver isn’t covered, or if they don’t have insurance, you may be able to collect through your underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage.
Of course, when dealing with an insurance company, be aware that their main concern is not the damages you’ve suffered as a result of the accident; it’s saving themselves money. Before accepting any insurance offer, your best bet is to consult with an attorney who can make sure you are getting the justice you deserve.
Lawsuits Against Drunk Drivers
Oregon is not a no-fault Insurance state, meaning that if you are involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you are free to pursue seeking damages from the at-fault driver in court. Oregon State Statutes, Sections 31.700-31.735 detail the types of damages that may be sought from drunk drivers. Under the theory of negligence, you may be able to collect compensation for your injuries for the following damages:
- Economic damages, including medical expenses and lost wages;
- Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, future medical expenses, and loss of potential job earnings or diminished capacity to enjoy life due to your injuries; and
- Punitive damages, which are meant to punish the negligent party.
Punitive damages are often difficult to obtain, but worth pursuing. Lawsuits for punitive damages in drunk driving cases may be able to be filed both against the driver, as well as any person or place guilty of over-serving the driver, or failing to prevent the drunk driver from getting behind the wheel. These lawsuits can run into millions of dollars.
Drunk Driving FAQs
Everyone should clearly know that drunk driving is against the law in Oregon. However, more than 6,000 people were arrested in our state in a single year for driving under the influence (DUI). Unfortunately, before they are arrested, too many drunk drivers cause serious accidents that leave other motorists or pedestrians severely injured. Many drunk driving victims do not know where to turn and the following are some brief answers to a few Portland drunk driving accident injury FAQs you may have. For specific answers regarding your specific case, call a Portland attorney today.
What Should I Do After An Accident When I Suspect The Other Driver Is Drunk?
Following any accident, you should call 911 as soon as possible if you believe you are injured. Not only will emergency medical professionals respond, but so will law enforcement officers. If you suspect that the other driver in the accident is drunk, it is imperative to have law enforcement officers on the scene who can investigate the situation and arrest the drunk driver if needed. Officers will also file an official police report that states their observations and suspicions regarding the driver’s level of intoxication.
Whether you go to the hospital or remain on the scene, you should write down–or dictate to someone else–everything you remember about the circumstances of the accident. Did you see the driver swerving before the crash? Were their headlights on? We they driving erratically? Any details that you can write down can only help you later in your case.
What Damages Can I Seek In A Drunk Driving Accident Case?
When you file a claim for personal injury after a drunk driving accident, you must specify the financial recovery that you are seeking. Such recovery is referred to as “damages.” Damages include compensation for many different losses, which may include the following:
- Past and future lost wages and benefits;
- Past and future medical expenses;
- Physical suffering and pain;
- Emotional distress;
- Permanent disfigurement or disability;
- Loss of enjoyment of life;
- Punitive damages.
Determining past financial losses can be quite straightforward as you can use pay statements or medical bills to prove your expenses. However, proving future losses or intangible losses such as pain and suffering can be complex. In many cases, you may need an expert to come in and testify to support the limitations you claim, such as your inability to work, or the ongoing medical care that you may require for many years.
How Do I Prove That A Driver Was Drunk To The Court?
Following a drunk driving accident, some of the most important evidence may be gathered by law enforcement officers. Officers conduct tests to determine whether a driver is impaired, including field sobriety tests, breath tests, or blood tests. The results of these tests are often used in any subsequent criminal case against the driver for DUI.
While the criminal case is a completely separate matter from your personal injury claim in civil court, if you can establish that the driver violated a safety law–such as the law against drunk driving–you can establish negligence per se. This means the court will not require any additional evidence for a finding of negligence and you will only have to prove your damages and losses.
Can I Sue The Establishment That Sold Alcohol To The Driver?
In some situations, Oregon “dram shop” laws may give you the right to sue the bar, nightclub, or restaurant that over-served the driver who caused the crash. However, you can only hold the establishment liable for your losses in certain situations, including the following:
- The establishment sold alcohol to the driver even though they were visibly intoxicated;
- The establishment sold alcohol to the driver who was under the legal drinking age of 21.
If either of these situations occurred, you may be entitled to additional compensation for your losses. However, there are different procedural requirements for dram shop claims, including a much shorter time limit to file the claim. Therefore, never wait too long to discuss your drunk driving accident with an attorney familiar with Oregon law.
What We can Do
If you or someone you know has been injured due to a drunk driver, contact our experienced Portland car accident attorneys. At the Johnston Law Firm, we have experience dealing with car insurance companies, and have a reputation of getting the best settlements for our clients. We can determine if a lawsuit is your better course of action, and can help you get the most in damages due to the injuries you’ve suffered. Contact the Johnson Law Firm today, and let our experienced Portland car accident attorneys review your case. We’ll help you get the compensation and justice you deserve.