A St. Joseph man pled guilty to driving while intoxicated (DWI) and causing a car accident that killed a local woman and her unborn child. The story raises a question that many accident victims ask: Can I recover compensation in a personal injury lawsuit from a drunk driver that hurt me?
The answer is yes, sometimes.
St. Joseph Man Pleads Guilty to DWI After Fatal Crash
The fatal accident happened on January 14, 2022. The driver, who had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 percent, almost twice the legal limit, and who admitted to using other drugs, veered his pickup truck into oncoming traffic and hit the victim head-on.
The victim and her unborn child died in the crash.
The driver was charged with DWI. Recently, he pled guilty to the charges.
Victims of Drunk Drivers Can File Lawsuits for Compensation
While the driver in this case pled guilty to DWI, this does not help the family of the victims. Personal injury law entitles them to compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Generally, after a car accident, that compensation would come from the liability policy of the driver’s car insurance coverage. All drivers in Missouri are required to have at least some liability coverage in order to drive a vehicle in the state.
However, liability policies generally have a policy limit – a maximum amount of compensation that they will pay out to victims hurt by the driver. Once that policy limit is reached, the insurance company is no longer on the hook and, if the victims are still not fully compensated, they have to look elsewhere.
Additionally, some car insurance policies expressly exclude drunk drivers from coverage. These policies only cover accidents caused by their policyholders if they were driving sober. Victims of drivers who have these policies have to get compensation from somewhere else.
What if Insurance Will Not Cover the Crash?
Victims who have been hurt by a drunk driver – or the family members of a victim who was killed – generally start by filing a lawsuit for compensation against the drunk driver’s car insurance provider. If the car insurance company denies their claim because their policyholder was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is a significant setback for the victims.
However, it is not the end of the case. Victims still have options. They can still do three things:
- File a personal injury claim against the driver, personally,
- File a claim against their own car insurance company under the uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, and
- File a lawsuit against any bars or restaurants that overserved the driver before the accident under Missouri’s dram shop laws.
While each of these sources of compensation may not fully compensate you on their own, together they can provide what you deserve.
For serious accidents, victims often have to seek compensation from these additional sources even if the drunk driver’s insurance covers the crash because of the policy’s limits.
St. Joseph Car Accident Lawyers at the Smith Law Office
After a serious accident involving a drunk driver, recovering the compensation that you need and deserve can be difficult. The car accident lawyers at the Smith Law Office can help in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, and the rest of western Missouri. Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373.