Alcohol-impaired drivers were involved in 117 fatal crashes in Washington State in 2014, and many more injury crashes. When a drunk driver causes an accident, injuries can be severe enough to cause death or permanent injury.
For those who have been hit by a drunk driver, feelings of anger, sadness, and confusion over what to do next are common. If you’re a victim of a drunk driver accident, here’s what you need to know about filing a claim for damages.
Your Rights Under Washington State’s Laws
Because Washington State is an at-fault car insurance state, you have a few different options for recovering damages.
- You can file a claim with your insurance company (if you have certain car insurance types, like medical benefits coverage)
- You can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company
- You can file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver in civil court
Filing a Claim Against the At-fault Driver
If the accident was not your fault and if your injuries are serious, it may be within your best interest to pursue the latter option: filing a claim against the at-fault driver in civil court.
Victims of drunk driving crashes will need to prove these things.
- Negligence was the cause of your accident (i.e., drunk driving)
- You must prove that you were injured
- You must prove that those injuries were a direct result of the accident
If the at-fault driver has car insurance, then their car insurance should pay for your damages in a personal injury claim.
As mentioned above, proving negligence is one of the most fundamental aspects of all personal injury claims. If the driver were drunk at the time of the accident, you'd have to prove it. To prove it, police reports and the police testimony will be key. You may also be able to access Breathalyzer or blood test results, as well as the testimony of other witnesses (such as a bartender who witnessed the person drinking prior to driving).
In Washington, the legal limit is .08 percent BAC – if the driver who hit you had a BAC higher than this then she or he was driving negligently.
I’m ready to file. What now?
If you’re prepared to file your claim for damages, Max Meyers Law PLLC can help. The statute of limitations for filing your claim is three years under RCW 4.16.080, so take action now. Our team is reachable at 425-399-7000.