Injured in an Indianapolis Drunk Driving Accident?
When someone finds themselves a victim of an Indianapolis drunk driving accident, the cost and toll of the ensuing injuries can be overwhelming. They may find themselves buried in medical bills, unable to work, or even, permanently disabled. Furthermore, they’ll need to replace or repair their vehicle, which can be incredibly costly, as well. In situations like these, the victim should contact the Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our team can help them fight for the compensation they deserve and hold those at fault accountable for the damage they’ve suffered.
Our Indianapolis drunk driving accident attorneys are skilled litigators with years of experience trying cases related to car accidents in Indiana. Their particular training in fatal accident cases and experience fighting for the rights of their clients give them an edge over many other lawyers. To better understand your case, give us a call today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free case consultation with a member of our team.
What Constitutes an Indianapolis Drunk Driving Accident?
Drunk drivers cause thousands of collisions every year in Indiana, resulting in over 1000 injuries and approximately a hundred deaths annually in the state. However, many of those injured in an Indianapolis drunk driving accident may not realize they have a right to fight for compensation for their injuries.
Legally, drunk driving occurs when the person operating a vehicle meets one of the following conditions: a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more (or .02% or more if you’re under the age of 21); any amount of a schedule I or II controlled substance in your system; or having thoughts or actions impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Although other drivers cannot test another driver’s sobriety in the moment, one can often identify a drunk driver by simply observing the way that they’re operating their vehicle. For example, some common behaviors that lead to drunk driving accidents in Indianapolis include:
- Weaving or drifting out of the lane into oncoming traffic
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
- Driving exceedingly fast
- Falling asleep at the wheel or blacking out
- Failing to notice pedestrians in the road or stopped cars ahead
What To Do When After You’ve Been in an Accident
If you are injured in an Indiana drunk driving accident, you could be entitled to recover both economic and non-economic losses, including medical bills, mental health treatment, property loss, car repairs/replacement, rehabilitation or continuing treatment, pain and suffering, and/or loss of companionship. However, to recover damages, you’ll need to successfully file a personal injury claim, prove your case, and either settle the personal injury case in Indiana or take it to court.
Call the Police and Report the Drunk Driving Accident
The first step to take when injured in an Indianapolis drunk driving accident is to call the police and notify them of the accident, the circumstances and your injuries. The police will document the details of the accident on an Indiana crash report, which will be valuable evidence later on in the process. In addition, if the police end up arresting the impaired driver that caused the accident, it will only benefit your future personal injury claim. Not only will the arrest provide you with official evidence of the driver’s impairment, but a conviction would be quite helpful in proving your right to compensation for damages in a civil case.
If the impaired driver wasn’t arrested, charged or convicted of drunk driving, you may still have a solid case, given that the standard of proof required in a civil case is much lower than that in a criminal case. However, in situations like this, you will need a skilled Indiana drunk driving accident attorney to collect all the relevant evidence and make a persuasive argument supporting a judgement in your favor.
Seek Medical Attention
You should also seek medical attention as soon as possible. Not only will doing so ensure your own health and well-being, but your medical provider will also create documentation and evidence of your injuries. This documentation often includes your account of the accident, the date and time of your visit, and most importantly, their professional assessment regarding the extent of your injuries. You should also request a written or typed document outlining the treatments or procedures you will require in the near and distant future. Some questions that you may want them to address in this document include:
- Will surgery be required?
- Will rehab be required? If so, how long will rehab take?
- What long-term disabilities might arise from this injury?
- What medications are required, and for how long?
- What is the expected recovery time from this injury?
- What sort of home assistance is required?
- When can you resume working?
Hire an Attorney Experienced in Indianapolis Drunk Driving Accidents
Once you’ve received medical care and reported all information to authorities, you should look to hire an Indianapolis drunk driving accident attorney. This is vital to ensuring that all evidence needed to support your claim is collected and preserved, but it’s also going to be helpful to have them help with filing the insurance claim with both your insurance company, and the insurance company of the impaired driver.
Example Evidence to Collect and Preserve:
- Photographs from the scene of the Indianapolis drunk driving accident
- Testimony from eyewitnesses
- Police records of the accident
- Photographs of your injuries
- Medical records and receipts
- Documents supporting claims of lost wages
- Testimony from family/friends about changes to daily life
- Testimony from counselors or psychological professionals
Submit your Insurance Claim
After you’ve submitted the insurance claim, with the help of your attorney, the insurance companies will begin collecting information regarding the incident. If the responsible party’s insurance company believes that your personal injury claim in Indiana is valid, they may offer you a limited amount of money as a settlement. These settlement offers, however, are often far below the fair value of your injuries, as the insurance company hopes to prevent you from filing a lawsuit for a larger, more equitable amount.
This is why it’s best to have an experienced injury lawyer speaking with the insurance company on your behalf. They have a stronger understanding regarding the circumstances of the settlement offer and would be able to provide you with sound advice about whether to take the settlement or to proceed with suing the insurance company in Indiana to receive the compensation that you truly deserve.
When you find yourself a victim of an Indianapolis drunk driving accident, you may need to fight for your right to compensation. This is especially true if the other driver is uninsured, or your insurer refuses to offer you sufficient compensation for your injuries. If you’re looking for one of the best personal injury attorneys in Indiana, call the Indianapolis Injury lawyers today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free case consultation with a member of our team. Our lawyers have the skill and experience required to evaluate your rights and potential damages award.
Damages Available to Those Injured in Indianapolis Drunk Driving Accidents
The most commonly award damages awarded to a person injured in an Indianapolis drunk driving accident are compensatory or actual damages, which are meant to compensate the crash victim for the harm that they’ve endured. This could include economic losses such as medical bills and lost wages, but also non-economic losses, like pain and suffering.
In some cases, your personal injury attorney may also consider seeking exemplary or punitive damages against the driver, as well as against others who may have contributed to the cause of the accident. Putative damages, which are intended to punish the defendant for their actions, are rarely awarded in Indiana. However, they may be warranted if the driver was heavily intoxicated or was driving at an excessive speed.
It’s important to note that punitive damages in Indiana are limited to 3x the amount of compensatory damages or $50,000, whichever is great. Furthermore, the victim may only receive 25% of the total putative damages award. The rest is deposited in the Indiana Violent crime Victim Compensation Fund.
The standard of evidence required to prove the suitability of punitive damages is much higher than the standard car accident case. Therefore, an experienced and aggressive drunk driving accident lawyer will be required to assemble the strongest case possible and pursue the maximum amount of damages.
The Dram Shop Statute in Indiana
Another element to consider when seeking the recovery of damages related to an Indianapolis drunk driving accident is a law called the Indiana Dram Shop Statute, which establishes when a person or establishment can be held liable for the harmful acts of its intoxicated customers. The law, contained in Indiana Code 7.1-5-10-15.5, states that “a person who furnishes (barters, delivers, sells, exchanges, provides, or gives away) an alcoholic beverage to a person is not liable in a civil action for damages caused by the impairment or intoxication of the person who was furnished the alcoholic beverage unless:
- The person furnishing the alcoholic beverage had actual knowledge that the person to whom the alcoholic beverage was furnished was visibly intoxicated at the time the alcoholic beverage was furnished; and
- The intoxication of the person to whom the alcoholic beverage was furnished was a proximate cause of the death, injury, or damage alleged in the complaint.
The statute continues to state that, “if a person who is at least twenty-one years of age suffers injury or death caused by the person’s voluntary intoxication, the person; person’s dependents; person’s personal representative; or person’s heirs; may not assert a claim for damages for personal injury or death against a person who furnished an alcoholic beverage that contributed to the person’s intoxication, unless subsections 1 and 2 (above) apply.
Seeking Compensation Following a Drunk Driving Accident in Indianapolis?
If you or a loved one has been severely injured in an Indianapolis drunk driving accident, you will need an experienced Indiana drunk driving accident attorney to receive the compensation you deserve and to hold the responsible driver accountable. The attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP have the litigation skills, required knowledge of Indiana personal injury laws, and the crash analysis experience to help you. For a free consultation on how we can help protect your rights, call 317-455-4043 or complete our online contact form today.