Statutes banning drinking and driving have been on the books in every US state for decades, yet statistics indicate that DUI collisions remain a threat to all road users. According to an Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO) report, there are around 2,950 alcohol-related crashes every year statewide.
Almost 200 people are killed in these incidents, while another 1,675 victims are hurt in drunk driving accidents. In other words, more than 63% of DUI collisions lead to death or injuries to at least one person.
Victims have legal rights under state traffic crash laws, but you may not know how to enforce them without a legal background. Fortunately, you can trust a Tulsa, OK, drunk driving accident attorney to pursue your remedies and obtain the compensation you deserve. It is also helpful to understand some basics on how to sue for damages caused by a drunk driver.
When to Call a Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
In the immediate aftermath of a drunk driving accident, you need to prioritize your and your loved ones’ medical care. Once you’ve settled and considered the circumstances that led to your accident, you can initiate an investigation into the drunk driver’s reckless behavior.
In other words, you should get in touch with a drunk driving attorney as soon as you feel capable of doing so after an accident. It’s our job to clarify the negligence that led to your losses and protect you from misinterpretations foisted upon you by the at-fault party, an insurance provider, and even police officers.
Our team can specifically help you overcome a mountain of difficulties after your drunk driving accident by:
- Communicating with a liable party and their insurance provider
- Communicating with police officers and related parties
- Managing your interactions with your insurance provider
- Investigating the nature of the negligence that resulted in your drunk driving accident
- Estimating the economic value of your accident
- Ensuring that your statements regarding the accident are concise, clear, and free of fault
During a free, no-stress case consultation, you can discuss the range of a Tulsa drunk driving accident attorney’s services. These consultations are ideal for accident survivors who want to learn more about their right to legal action without committing to a certain course.
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Understanding Liability in a DUI Crash Claim
Most auto collisions are the result of driver negligence, which means more than mere carelessness in a legal context. You must prove that the at-fault motorist did not exercise reasonable care while driving and that this misconduct was the direct cause of the accident.
Your claim against the drunk driver is separate from the penalties they may face for a criminal conviction. Your rights are civil in nature since you are pursuing monetary damages instead of jail time.
If the at-fault motorist was convicted of DUI, this would be powerful evidence to support your claim. In many cases, a criminal conviction constitutes an automatic assumption of fault in a civil case. However, a conviction is not necessary to prevail in your civil claim since the burden of proof is lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in a criminal case.
How to Sue for Damages Caused by a Drunk Driver
Motorists in Oklahoma are required to carry auto insurance, so the first step in the legal process is filing a claim with the company. Even if you have solid evidence related to the DUI crash, there can be challenges in dealing with insurers.
These companies are committed to their own financial interests, not yours. You might receive a denial or lowball counteroffer to settle, which means you will need to go to court to get fair compensation. In a DUI accident case, it is possible to recover for:
- Medical costs to treat your injuries
- Lost income
- Property replacement and/or repairs
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
If you want to recover these damages, your complaint must make it to the appropriate parties within Oklahoma’s personal injury statute of limitations. As noted in Oklahoma Statutes §12-95, drunk driving accident survivors have two years from the day of their collision to take legal action. Attempting to file after this deadline passes can see a court waive your right to support.
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What to Expect After Filing a Drunk Driving Accident Claim
A personal injury claim initiates your right to legal action. Civil professionals have to consider your claim and choose to move it forward before you can begin demanding damages from the party responsible for your drunk driving accident. Only once you’ve received approval to move forward can you begin down the path toward compensation.
That said, you have a lot of control over what that path looks like. You can choose to negotiate for a drunk driving settlement. These negotiations tend to resolve more quickly than drunk driving trials, but they may see you forced to compromise when requesting financial support for your losses.
Drunk driving civil trials, comparatively, can be lengthy. They can intersect with a criminal case, should the state choose to bring one against the at-fault party. However, drunk driving trials put responsibility for your damages in the hands of a judge. It’s your only job during a trial to convince the judge and jury that you deserve financial support based on a violated duty of care.
How to Address Settlement Offers After a Drunk Driving Accident
It is rare for a driver involved in a drunk driving accident to reach out to you after your collision. However, there are circumstances where the at-fault driver may attempt to offer you a settlement before you can take their case to court. These settlement offers are designed to help you and any other parties involved in your accident avoid a lengthy legal commitment.
That said, settlement offers aren’t always made with the best intentions in mind. For example, if an at-fault driver’s insurance provider approaches you with a settlement offer, you should consider the provider’s business model. Insurance providers want to save money. They may make you a settlement offer, but it may not address the full breadth of your losses.
With that in mind, don’t hesitate to put a settlement offer on hold. You can bring an offer to our experienced attorneys and compare it against our own estimation of your case’s value. We can let you know if a settlement looks insufficient and then go to bat for you to negotiate more substantial post-accident coverage.
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Our Tulsa, OK, Drunk Driving Accidents Lawyers Can Help
Drunk driving accidents occur far more often than they should throughout the nation. That doesn’t mean that you have to sit idly by in the wake of a devastating collision. If you’ve endured losses due to someone else’s negligence, you can take legal action alongside the BDIW Law team.
For more information on recovering compensation after a DUI crash, contact BDIW Law today. You can call or visit us online to set up a no-cost consultation with a member of our team. An Oklahoma drunk driving accident attorney can provide details on your legal remedies after reviewing the details of your case.
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