If your vehicle is damaged by a drunk driver then will your auto insurance company pay for the damages? This seems like a no brainer, right?
If someone is flagrantly disrespecting the law and driving drunk, they must pay restitution for any damage that they do to your vehicle. This seems reasonable.
However, you might be surprised to know that not every circumstance involving a drunk driver is necessarily going to go in your favor.
Yes, the drunk driver will be prosecuted by police if they are discovered to be DUI/DWI. Unfortunately, your restitution is not always connected with drunk driving laws.
Read on to learn some of the different drunk driving and car insurance scenarios and then use the free tool on the page to compare auto insurance quotes today!
When the Drunk Driver Gets Away
First things first– if a person is convicted of DUI or DWI it will drastically increase their car insurance premiums, and possibly disqualify that person from qualifying for insurance altogether. Obviously, being intoxicated while driving is a significant factor for both insurance companies to consider when evaluating the scene of a collision. Are there any circumstances in which a drunk driver could ram into your vehicle, but not be found at fault?
Indeed there are.
For example, technicalities such as a sober motorist driving a car that he/she was not authorized to drive, may be viewed just as negatively as a drunk driver in the other vehicle. What if a drunk driver collides with a motorist but neither party has any insurance? There isn’t much recourse for a motorist—sober or not—if there is no insurance company to consult and the driver doesn’t have money. Insurance companies will usually decline compensation if there is any such technicality as to the legal driver of the vehicle, or if there is any question as to insurance coverage exclusions.
There is a defense against this disastrous scenario and that is purchasing uninsured (or underinsured) motorist protection also referred to as UM or UIM coverage. Insurance providers have no doubt noticed that there are an increasing amount of uninsured drivers on the road, particularly, drivers that recklessly and shamelessly “hit and run” to avoid the aftermath scene. The only protection for uninsured motorists, from an insurance company’s standpoint, is to purchase a special policy protecting you from this situation.
What Will Happen Following the Accident
In most cases, it will not matter if you are hit by an uninsured motorist or a drunk uninsured motorist. They will probably be punished for their own breaking of the law (though not all states require liability insurance, so keep this mind), but this doesn’t mean that the police will do you any favors. You’re not dealing with the police or the uninsured person—you are dealing with the other driver’s insurance company. If they have no insurance, and you have no insurance policy protecting you from this threat, who is really working for your benefit?
Some states will penalize drivers who don’t have insurance immediately, even if they are hit by drunk drivers. Even if you are sitting in a parked car, and have no insurance policy to show for, you will be held responsible for the damages—and probably ticketed for not having insurance. So do not think that just because you are the lesser of two evils, the law or the insurance companies will be on your side!
If you only have liability insurance, then it must be proven that the other motorist was negligently driving, and a drunken state of mind is a good start to make a case. Remember though, if you only have liability insurance and the other insurance company refuses to cover the damages then a claim cannot be processed. In order to benefit from an insurance policy that pays for damages regardless of fault, you must have full coverage insurance.
If you do have insurance and you do have uninsured motorist protection then you should have a strong case against the drunk driver who wrecked into you. Never allow the other driver to guilt you into letting the case go. Call a police officer to the scene immediately. It must be verified by an outside source that the driver was drunk. Make sure you get a police report filled out and get all of the other driver’s information: name, insurance company, car VIN, policy number and a detailed description of all damages and what circumstances caused the collision. All of this information is needed in order to make a claim.
What Other Legal Options Do You Have?
You do have other options outside of an insurance office. If you are injured or if your vehicle is damaged because of the negligence of a drunk driver then you do have the right to sue the other person tort states. This action may prove to be necessary if the insurance company is not cooperating, or if the driver has no insurance coverage. If you are injured, see a doctor as soon as possible. Get a report on your injuries.
If the other insurance company doesn’t compensate you, then talk to an attorney about a lawsuit. A drunk driver, even if he/she is not insured, still must answer to civil liability. Remember this: the insurance company is protecting their client against a lawsuit. This is the primary reason why we have insurance companies in the first place. They want to pay off the damages for as little as possible as to avoid a lawsuit. You can sue for minor damages to personal property through a small claims court. You can also sue the other motorist in civil court if they intentionally caused the accident, because in this circumstance, the insurance company would refuse to cover their client.
Keep in mind though, before you take the other driver to court, you want to verify that the person has assets in his/her possession that will make your court case worthwhile. You will owe a significant amount of money to your attorney. If the other person has no money, no property or any other assets, then no attorney will take the case!
There is an alcohol related traffic death in the U.S. every 45 minutes, and more accidents that are non-fatal that take place within an hour’s time. Make sure that you are protected from drunk drivers by ordering uninsured motorist protection and or full coverage protection. Get started right now using our free car insurance comparison tool for insurance policies!