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Can You Sue a Drunk Driver in North Carolina?

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Drunk Driving

A traffic crash always carries the possibility of injury or death, and many of the worst such accidents are caused by impaired drivers. What can you do if you or a family member has been injured by an impaired driver?

Despite years of public safety campaigns to reduce the rate of drunk driving crashes and fatalities, many foolish motorists still choose to drive drunk. In North Carolina, the number of alcohol-related crashes jumped from 10,080 in 2014, to 10,487 in 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available. The number of people killed in those accidents rose in similar proportion.

Because they are impaired, drunk drivers may run red lights, speed, or fail to slow down when a crash is imminent. The injuries that result from accidents caused by drunk drivers can be catastrophic and even fatal.

In North Carolina, conviction on a drunk driving charge is a criminal offense. Drivers convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in our state face penalties including fines, imprisonment, a criminal record, and other consequences.

Injured victims of these drivers have a right to take legal action. While money cannot restore a life or an injured person’s health or ability, it can provide needed support to face the challenges of a changed way of life. Depending on the details of your case, you should consider the following sources of rightful compensation:

  • Insurance proceeds may be available from the agency that provided coverage to the at-fault drunk driver. Unfortunately, drunk drivers who are repeat offenders often drive without insurance. In that case, compensation may be available under the uninsured driver portion of your own automobile policy.
  • In North Carolina, people hurt or families of those killed by a drunk driver may seek punitive damages in a personal injury suit.
  • Under North Carolina Dram Shop laws, restaurants, bars, or other entities may not serve alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person. If the drunk driver who caused your accident was served alcohol unlawfully, the business that served him or her may also bear some responsibility. A social host who serves alcohol to a guest (as opposed to a paying customer) may also be held responsible for drunk driving injuries, depending on the facts of the case.

An important feature of personal injury laws in North Carolina is the rule of contributory negligence. This means that if you even partially contributed to the injury you suffered, you may not have standing to file a legal claim. In a drunk driving case, if you got into a car with a driver whom you knew was impaired, and you were subsequently injured in an accident he or she caused, North Carolina law holds that you accepted responsibility for your injury when you accepted the car ride.

If you have suffered injury or loss in a drunk driving accident, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in North Carolina. Our legal team at the Lanier Law Group, P.A. offers a free consultation to discuss your case. We work with victims of drunk drivers on a contingency basis, so we only get paid if you win your case. Contact us today, or call us at (855) 757-4204 to learn more.

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