Do I Need to Go to Court to Recover Damages After a Drunk Driving Accident?

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A judge's gavel on a desk, with a blurred out lawyer in the background holding a stack of hundred dollar bills out.Victims of drunk driving accidents have options when it comes time to recover damages. As long as the victim has no shared responsibility for causing the accident, they can seek compensation for all damages they have received.

The first step is to file a claim for damages with the offender’s insurance company. Accidents involving drunk drivers are more complex than those with sober drivers because insurance companies may refuse to pay for drunk drivers, according to Forbes.

They will argue that drinking alcohol before or while driving is an intentional act, and insurance does not cover intentional acts. If this is the case, a personal injury lawyer will negotiate on the victim’s behalf for compensation.

If negotiations are not successful or the settlement offer from the insurance company is not adequate to cover all the victim’s claims, the attorney will file a lawsuit against the driver and possibly the insurance company, depending on the circumstances.

After filing the lawsuit, insurance companies will often offer a suitable settlement for compensation, and the process can end there. The driver may also wish to settle out of court and negotiate a settlement offer.

How to Settle Outside of Court

Only a small percentage of claims for damages in a drunk driving case actually go to trial. Most cases are settled outside of court.

A personal injury attorney will negotiate on your behalf to get you the settlement you deserve.

The experienced drunk driving lawyers at Tatum & Atkinson are knowledgeable about drunk driving cases and know what to push for and what to expect. They will guide you through the settlement offers, so you can be sure you are getting a fair amount.

Why Do Drunk Drivers Settle Outside of Court?

Driving under the influence of alcohol is extremely dangerous. The accidents caused by drunk drivers are completely preventable, and courts are not sympathetic toward the defendant.

The driver and especially their lawyer know that they are not likely to win their case in court. In order to avoid costly court fees and possible punitive damages, depending on the severity of the situation, it is in the driver’s best interest to settle out of court.

Insurance companies also want to avoid having to pay extra fees and will try to settle out of court. Your drunk driving accident lawyer will assist you in knowing how much your case is worth so that you get fair compensation.

Why Should I Settle Out of Court?

Settling out of court will get you paid faster. Going to court takes time because you have to prepare your case, wait for your court date, and prove your case in trial, which can take time as well.

There will also be costly court and litigation fees. Just because you are offered a settlement does not mean that you have to accept it.

However, there are some good reasons to accept a settlement offer:

  • The settlement is enough to cover all your damages
  • You need the money right away and can not wait for further negotiations
  • You do not want to endure a long trial

Is My Settlement Offer Fair?

Insurance companies will often present a low offer as though it is very generous to make you believe that you are not entitled to more. In reality, what they have offered might not even cover all your medical expenses, not to mention everything else that you are entitled to receive.

Always contact a lawyer to negotiate the settlement amount for you to make sure you get fair compensation.

Should I Go to Court?

Waiting to go to court is not for anyone. You should discuss your options with your attorney to decide what is best for your situation. Some elements to consider include:

  • The legal precedence of your case. The precedence is what type of outcome the court has given to cases similar to yours in the past.
  • The severity of your injuries
  • The extent of damages from the accident
  • How likely you are to get sympathy from the jury
  • Whether you have dependents
  • Your age
  • How long can you wait for the money
  • Are you prepared to pay the legal fees
  • How much money do you wish to receive as compensation

The insurance company will also be looking at these factors when deciding if they wish to go to court or offer a fair settlement. Your attorney will help you weigh the pros and cons, but the decision is ultimately yours.

Can I Settle Out of Court Without An Attorney?

It is possible to accept a settlement offer without ever consulting a lawyer. However, insurance companies often offer less to victims without legal counsel because they know you do not have experience in legal matters, so you probably do not know how much your claims are worth.

Victims with lawyers negotiating on their behalf are usually offered fair settlements quickly. They are able to negotiate a higher multiplier, according to All Law.

Contact a Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer to Negotiate For a Fair Settlement

At Tatum & Atkinson, we offer free consultations to discuss your case, and we will not charge you anything until we have achieved a satisfactory outcome for you. Contact us at (800) LAW-0804 to speak with an experienced attorney.

We do not let insurance companies take advantage of our clients. Every case gets individualized attention and care.

With over sixty years of combined experience, you can be sure that you are in good hands. You have been through enough, having gone through an accident with a drunk driver.

Let us handle the fight to get you the best possible compensation.