When you sustain damages from a drunk driving accident, the law allows you to pursue financial compensation from the at-fault party. However, when it comes time to receive your settlement, you should also receive a payout from the drunk driver’s insurance company.
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 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 payout 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.
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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 of 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. Instead, 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 get 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. Therefore, you may need the assistance of a lawyer to help accurately quantify these damages.
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 the at-fault party’s insurance will pay any claim you bring forward after an accident. 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.
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.
Some of the most common tactics insurance companies use to pressure you into taking a settlement less than what your damages are worth include:
- 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 get 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.
Always File a Claim for Your Damages
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. Therefore, it is 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.
Insurance companies love to fight against drunk driving accident victims and will try to pay only the bare minimum for their damages. Negotiating for a settlement alone can be extremely difficult and often yield meager financial compensation. Before you settle anything, always seek legal assistance first.
How a Lawyer Can Help You
While insurance companies are supposed to pay for your damage after a drunk driving accident, this isn’t always the case, as stated previously. Many insurance companies want to protect their bottom line, and if that means paying you less, they will do that with no hesitation. Our lawyers can ensure you get a fair settlement by:
- Calculating your damages accurately.
- Ensuring that you get your voice heard during negotiations and that the insurance company takes your damages and accident seriously.
- Gather essential evidence related to your drunk driving accident to support your claim.
- Take your claim to trial if necessary.
Our lawyers never accept any payment upfront, so don’t worry about any legal fees. We only take payment out of your settlement that we help you win. So if we can’t win compensation for your accident, you owe us nothing in return.
Your Time Limit to File a Claim
Always keep in mind that you don’t have all the time in the world. There is a statute of limitations for how long you have to file a claim against the drunk driver and their insurance company to compensate for your damages. You typically have two years in Georgia, although this can be even shorter depending on the circumstances.
In general, you shouldn’t wait to file. Instead, always try to build a strong case and negotiate for a settlement as soon as possible while evidence is still fresh. If you wait too long, evidence can deteriorate, and the insurance company will have an easier time claiming your damages aren’t as severe since you didn’t take immediate action.
Call John Foy & Associates Today to Get Started
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, the lawyers at John Foy & Associates have helped many clients with cases similar to yours. We are dedicated, honest, and will work hard to win for you. Contact us today for a free consultation or through our online contact form.