When you sustain damages from a drunk driving accident, the law allows you to pursue financial compensation from the at-fault party. When it comes time to receive your settlement, you should also receive a payout from the drunk driver’s insurance company.
Many of the injuries associated with car accidents can result in expensive medical bills and lasting physical damages that can negatively impact your life forever. It is therefore essential that all of your expenses are covered and your damages properly compensated. When negotiating with the insurance company, it’s a good idea to have legal representation.
Our lawyers will help make sure you get the best settlement possible. We have recovered over $1 billion in settlements for our clients. The lawyers at John Foy & Associates are ready to help you get started on filing your claim. Call us today at (404) 471-3348 to learn more about all of your legal options.
Why Insurance Companies Must Pay for Drunk Driving Accidents
When you get into an accident, the at-fault party’s insurance should pay for it. However, many people falsely believe that insurance companies will not pay out for drunk driving accidents because they think these accidents are intentional.
While driving drunk may be intentional, drunk drivers do not intend to get into a car crash. Due to the lack of intent, insurance companies should pay out when a drunk driving accident occurs.
There are, however, some instances where the insurance company will try to deny all liability and not pay for any damages. You will then need a lawyer to help negotiate a settlement on your behalf.
Insurance Companies Do Not Pay Punitive Damages
Under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) §51-12-5.1, Punitive damages are awarded to victims of intentional accidents through a grossly negligent action, with malice, or with fraud. Drunk driving counts as a grossly negligent action and the court may impose a fine up to $250,000—in addition to whatever settlement they are ordered to pay.
Punitive damages, also referred to as exemplary damages, generally are not paid by the insurance company. The drunk driver will need to pay punitive damages out of their own pocket.
Types of Damages Insurance Companies Will Pay for
Some of the most common damages an insurance company will pay for include:
- Lost wages or reduced earning capability
- Medical expenses, such as hospital visits and prescriptions
- Medical equipment
- Vehicle repairs or replacements
- Any damages to property
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
There are two types of damages you can pursue compensation for: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are fixed in value and are calculated with your bills, receipts, or other types of financial documents.
Non-economic damages are not fixed in value and vary depending on their severity. You may need the assistance of a lawyer to help accurately quantify these damages.
Expect Resistance from Insurance Companies
Insurance companies are only interested in protecting themselves. Remember that insurance companies are businesses. They will seek to guard their assets and will not part with them easily. Treat whatever they tell you with skepticism and don’t agree to anything they say without first consulting with a lawyer.
One of the most common tactics insurance companies use is they try to pressure you into taking a settlement less than what your damages are really worth. They do so by:
- Exploiting your financial situation and offering cash fast
- Stalling the legal process so your financial situation worsens
- Reach out to you under the guise of being helpful but ultimately try to get you to admit fault for an accident that was not your fault
These reasons are why it is essential to get legal help when negotiating for a settlement. Just knowing a lawyer on your side is enough to make the insurance companies reevaluate their strategy. Many claims are settled out of court, but we will not shy away from escalating your claim to trial if an insurance company is particularly stubborn by refusing to compromise.
Georgia Is an At-Fault State
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that one person dies from a car accident involving drunk driving every 50 minutes. There are countless more injured due to the negligence of those who get behind the wheel while intoxicated. By holding them accountable for their actions, you can receive compensation through their insurance company.
Georgia is an at-fault state, which means that any claim you bring forward after an accident will be paid by the at-fault party’s insurance. To get your settlement quickly, it is best to file as soon as possible. While there is no guarantee that negotiations or a trial will end quickly, the faster you start, the better.
Call John Foy & Associates Today to Get Started
The statute of limitations in Georgia is two years to file your claim. It may seem confusing how to begin, but our lawyers will help you understand your case and pursue a fair settlement. For over 20 years, we have helped many clients with cases similar to yours. We are dedicated, honest, and will work hard to win for you. Call us today for a free consultation at (404) 471-3348.