Injuries resulting from drunk driving accidents are often severe. If you were hurt in an accident that involved drinking and driving, you will likely be wondering what your options are for recovering compensation. Whether you were the one who was drinking or not, there is a good chance that at least part of your damages will be covered by insurance.
At the Morelli Law Firm, we know how hard it can be to rebuild your life after a severe injury. Without fair compensation, a challenging situation can become nearly impossible. Our team of experienced drunk driving accident lawyers in Pennsylvania is ready to help you recover the money you need after a drunk driving accident.
Pennsylvania Is a No-Fault State
Pennsylvania is among a handful of states using a no-fault law in car accident cases. Under this law, if you are involved in a car accident while driving in Pennsylvania, your first stop for compensation is going to be your own insurer. In addition, all Pennsylvania drivers must carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.
PIP will give you limited protection for injuries you sustain in a crash. For a minor accident, you should be able to recover compensation from your insurer for your damages, regardless of the cause of the accident. Unfortunately, the downside of no-fault insurance is that your ability to recover compensation for more serious damages may be limited.
Limited Tort Versus Full Tort Insurance
Pennsylvania gives drivers two options regarding the right to sue if their damages exceed their own insurance coverage. With both limited tort and full tort insurance, it is possible to make a claim for compensation against the liable party if your damages exceed what is covered by your PIP insurance.
The difference is that with limited tort, you are limited to recovering economic damages, while full tort gives you the option to also sue for non-economic damages, like pain and suffering. While full tort insurance gives those covered the right to full recovery of damages, the cost of this coverage is higher. Because of this, many drivers opt for limited tort coverage.
Insurance Companies May Fight Your Claim if You Were Driving Drunk
Under Pennsylvania law, insurance companies are required to pay claims regardless of who was at fault for the accident. However, there is a loophole to this requirement that your insurer may try to employ if you were injured while driving under the influence.
Insurers are not required to pay out in cases where the insured committed an intentional act of harm. This is why insurance companies do not pay out when someone commits suicide.
If you were harmed while driving drunk, the insurance company may argue that you knew about the dangers of drinking and driving, yet chose to drive drunk anyway, constituting an intentional act. If your insurer is successful, you will not receive any compensation for your injuries.
Liability in a Drunk Driving Accident
After an accident where your damages exceed your PIP insurance coverage, it is essential to prove that another party was liable for the accident in order to recover full compensation for your damages.
Determining liability in a drunk driving accident is often straightforward. In most cases, the person who was driving drunk is primarily at fault for an accident. Still, other parties might share a portion of the liability.
Even if the drunk driver was abiding by all other rules of the road and another driver struck them, they are going to hold some level of liability if they were driving under the influence.
A drunk driving accident lawyer can help you prove liability to recover compensation from the at-fault party.
Comparative Negligence in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania employs a comparative negligence law when assigning fault after an accident. With comparative negligence, multiple parties can be assigned a level of liability for an accident. The percentage of liability assigned to you will determine how much you can potentially recover.
For example, if you are determined to have been 40% at fault for the accident, you will only be eligible to recover 60% of the total value of your damages.
Recoverable Damages After a Drunk Driving Accident
If you were involved in a drunk driving accident that resulted in serious injuries, you will likely be eligible to recover substantial compensation for your damages. If you have limited tort insurance coverage, you’ll be able to recover economic damages from the liable party, including:
- Lost income
- Diminished earning capacity
- Property damage
- Medical costs
- Future medical bills
If you have full tort insurance coverage, you will also be able to recover non-economic, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Decreased quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Mental anguish
In accidents where the liable party was a drunk driver, there is also a high chance that you will be able to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded in drunk driving accidents far more frequently than in car accidents that don’t involve alcohol.
The reason for this is that punitive damages are meant to punish the liable party for their actions when they acted in a manner that was criminally negligent or done with the intention of causing harm.
Talk to a Pennsylvania Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Today
It is essential to hire an experienced lawyer with a proven track record of recovering fair compensation for their clients. At the Morelli Law Firm, our team of Pennsylvania drunk driving accident attorneys knows what it takes to get our clients the compensation they need and deserve.
Call us or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We’ll review your case and answer all of your questions.