Operating a motor vehicle while impaired (OVI), or under the influence of drugs or alcohol is dangerous – and illegal. Despite this, thousands of people drink and drive every year, and thousands more are killed or injured in drinking-related accidents. If you or a loved one was involved in a drunk driving accident in Dayton, we are here to help.
You may qualify to file a claim or lawsuit against the intoxicated driver who caused the accident. Our team can gather evidence, quantify your damages, and file a claim to fight for your financial recovery. You can learn more about drunk OVI laws and how to recover damages with support from a Dayton drunk driving accident lawyer during a free case review from our firm.
Recovering Damages After a Collision With a Drunk Driver in Dayton
Ohio is an at-fault state, which means you file a personal injury claim with the liable party’s insurer after an accident to recover compensation. Alternatively, you can sue for financial recovery if your losses exceed the policy limits or an insurer refuses to offer a fair settlement for your damages.
Any losses or damages that you can prove resulted from the drunk driving collision can be included in your claim. Examples of losses and damages often seen in OVI accident cases include:
- Medical expenses, including emergency care, doctor’s visits, surgery costs, prescription costs, rehabilitation fees, and ambulance fees
- Loss of income or earning potential
- Property and vehicle damage
- Pain, suffering, and emotional trauma
Financial Recovery Depends on the Strength of Your Case Evidence
How much you stand to receive in compensation depends on the evidence you have against the liable party and how strongly you negotiate with their insurer. Evidence that we can help you gather in support of your financial recovery includes:
- The official police report of the collision
- Surveillance video
- Eyewitness testimony on how the accident occurred
- Dram shop/alcohol vendor testimony
- Driver BAC or breathalyzer test results
When we take over your case, our team will put the time and resources into collecting evidence and building a compelling claim. Then, we will present this claim to the insurer and steer negotiations in your favor. If our firm doesn’t secure a settlement for you, we will move on to the next option: filing a lawsuit.
Seeking Punitive Damages
If a lawsuit is the best choice for you, you might be able to seek more than your financial losses and pain and suffering. Drunk driving cases are unique because they could allow the victim to recover punitive damages in addition to other losses. In Ohio, a jury can award punitive damages if the defendant’s actions were malicious or knowingly egregious, per Ohio Revised Code 2315.21.
Punitive damages are meant to punish the driver for his knowingly harmful actions and deter others from doing the same in the future. If a jury determines you are entitled to compensatory damages, you and your drunk driving accident lawyer can then seek punitive damages.
If there is a criminal case against the drunk driver, your civil suit may be bolstered by the outcome of the proceedings. A criminal conviction serves as evidence of the driver’s guilt in your Dayton injury lawsuit.
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Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against the Drunk Driver in Dayton, Ohio
Drunk drivers are liable for your injuries and losses, whether they have insurance or not. Plainly speaking, you have the right to file a lawsuit against them in court. A Dayton accident injury lawyer at our firm will help you decide if suing the drunk driver is the right choice based on your case’s facts.
In general, a personal injury lawsuit may be the right choice for you if:
- The drunk driver’s insurance is not enough to cover the full amount of your damages.
- The drunk driver does not have car insurance, and you lack uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
- Your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is inadequate to cover all your expenses and losses.
- Your insurance company denies your claim or won’t payout your UM/UIM for the full amount you can receive.
- The drunk driver’s insurance company won’t pay what you deserve.
Our Dayton drunk driver car accident lawyers can help you file a lawsuit against the drunk driver or their insurance company, depending on your case’s circumstances.
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Dram Shop Negligence in Ohio
Ohio law also allows drunk driving accident victims to hold third parties responsible for their injuries in particular cases. Per Ohio Revised Code Section 4399.18, someone who suffered injuries because of an intoxicated driver’s actions can sue the bar or restaurant that served the driver if:
- The injuries occurred on the alcohol vendor’s property and were caused by the establishment’s negligence, or
- If the injuries occurred off the alcohol vendor’s premises, the vendor “knowingly sold” alcohol to a “noticeably intoxicated” person or to someone under the age of 21, and the person’s intoxication caused the injuries.
Social Host Negligence in Ohio
Ohio’s “dram shop laws” apply only to vendors with a license to serve alcohol. Generally, laypeople cannot be sued for providing alcohol to guests at a social gathering.
However, there is one exception. If a social host provides alcohol to an underage guest and that guest proceeds to harm someone else due to intoxication, the host can be held liable under Ohio’s “social hosts laws” per Ohio Revised Code Section 4301.69.
Filing Deadlines for Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuits in Ohio
If you need to file a lawsuit, winning your case also means you must meet all applicable filing requirements, such as filing within the statutes of limitations. As per Ohio Revised Code Section 2305.10, you generally have two years within which to file a personal injury lawsuit against the party responsible for your collision.
Wrongful death lawsuits are also subject to a two-year time limit under Ohio Revised Code Section 2125.02. If you miss the filing deadline, you run the risk of losing the opportunity to recover compensation for all your accident-related losses and damages. Fortunately, a drunk driving car accident attorney in Dayton can help you stay on top of applicable filing dates.
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You Can Take Control Over Your Pursuit of Drunk Driving Car Accident Compensation
Provided that a county clerk moves your case forward, you have some say over how you’d like to pursue your desired accident settlement. If you’d rather avoid a lengthy trial, you can discuss your right to negotiations with an attending attorney. Our team can schedule out-of-court conversations with a defendant at which you can elaborate on your desire for support.
Drunk driving car accident settlement negotiations tend to resolve more quickly than civil trials. However, because you may be negotiating directly with the party responsible for your accident, these conversations can grow heated. There may come a point where pursuing informal conversations about your right to a settlement is no longer constructive.
In these cases, it may be in your best interest to take your case before a judge. With the oversight of a court and an attending jury, you can lay out the details of your accident and request that impartial parties determine what your right to a settlement looks like.
What to Expect From a Drunk Driving Car Accident Civil Trial
You can choose to either transition into a civil trial after failed negotiations or forgo initial settlement negotiations altogether. No matter which option you choose, though, preparing for a civil trial can feel intimidating.
Fortunately, you’re not going into the civil process alone. Our team can let you know what the legal process generally looks like as you’re preparing to undergo a civil drunk driving car accident trial. Specifically, we can help prepare you for:
- Opening statements
- Closing statements
- Deliberation and verdict
Discovery sees you and the defendant’s representatives exchange information regarding your accident. Your attorney can then build an opening statement describing your losses and elaborating on the evidence of said losses that they intend to bring forward. Your role as the prosecution may see you deliver your perspective on your accident during examination.
Of course, if you undergo examination, you should be prepared to undergo cross-examination from the defense. Dayton, OH, drunk driving car accident attorneys can help you prepare for cross-examination by coaxing you through possible questions and providing you with answers that strengthen your case for compensation.
How a Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer From Our Firm Can Help
In addition to gathering evidence to support your case, an attorney from our firm can help you with the following:
- Identifying all compensable damages relevant to your claim
- Quantifying the dollar value for each category of damage
- Walking you through what you need to know about insurance and personal injury laws
- Calculating any non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, if applicable
- Negotiating with the insurer of the at-fault party
- Representing you in court if we cannot reach a fair settlement agreement
We will also seek out testimony from expert witnesses, such as doctors and economists, to accurately assess your losses in terms of disability, lost income, inability to work, and pain and suffering. This is required for you to be fairly and fully compensated for your losses.
Legal Fees Should Not Prevent You From Holding a Dayton Drunk Driver Responsible
At the Fitch Law Firm LLC, we collect attorney’s fees only if you prevail. We provide free, no-commitment case consultations, and if you do not win, you do not pay for our representation. Our team will handle your case from start to finish and will only collect once your case is decided and you are awarded either a settlement or a compensation package.
A single accident can fling your financial well-being into jeopardy; as long as you have grounds on which to file a claim or lawsuit, you should avail that opportunity.
Contact Our Firm About a Dayton Drunk Driving Accident Case Today
Drunk driving accident losses and expenses can quickly add up. Our Dayton car accident team will walk you through everything you need to know about your drunk driving case. We will help you with gathering evidence, quantifying your damages, and completing all the legal formalities related to your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
If you were involved in a drunk driving accident in any capacity, contact the Fitch Law Firm today to connect with a drunk driving car accident lawyer in Dayton. When you call, you’ll receive a free case review with one of our team members and learn about the next steps to take.
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