Were you hurt in a motor vehicle accident caused by an intoxicated driver? At Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, we believe you should not have to pay for someone else’s irresponsible decision. We want to do everything we can to fight for the justice you deserve.
For over a decade, we have pursued maximum compensation for injury victims in Morgantown and throughout West Virginia. Our attorneys focus specifically on personal injury cases, giving us considerable knowledge and familiarity in this area of the law. Our firm started in insurance defense, so we understand how these companies approach claims and build their cases. We now use this experience against them, preparing effective case strategies for securing the best possible results for accident victims hurt by their policyholders.
Our founding attorney, Jeff Robinette, is a board-certified trial lawyer and a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, which recognizes attorneys who have secured settlements and verdicts of more than $2 million. Our firm has also been recognized as an Avvo Client’s Choice Award winner and a 2016 Litigator Awards Top 1% Personal Injury Law Firm. While we are proud of these awards, we care more about what they represent: financial security for our clients.
Find out how our experience, litigation skill, and commitment to results can make a difference in your case. Contact Robinette Legal Group, PLLC today for a free consultation with a Morgantown drunk driving accident attorney.
Drunk Driving Accident Statistics in West Virginia
According to the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles, 24 percent of the state’s total motor vehicle accident fatalities in one recent five-year period were alcohol-related. In a single recent year, 56 of the state’s 260 traffic fatalities occurred in an accident involving an alcohol-impaired driver. This equates to a rate of 3.08 deaths in alcohol-involved accidents per 100,000 residents in West Virginia. In another recent year, 5,103 criminal DUI charges were filed in the state, resulting in 3,397 convictions or deferrals.
What to Do After an Accident with a Drunk Driver
You can take the following steps to protect your legal rights after an accident with a drunk driver:
- Call 911 — Contact the police immediately after the accident. Do not confront the other driver if you suspect they are intoxicated. Let the police investigate the accident and determine if the other driver was driving drunk.
- Gather evidence — Document the accident scene by getting contact information from any eyewitnesses and taking photos and videos of details like vehicle damage, skid marks on the road, and traffic controls at the scene.
- See a doctor — Seek prompt medical attention so a physician can examine you and diagnose any injuries you may have suffered in the accident. Follow your healthcare provider’s treatment plan and instructions.
- Document your losses — Keep copies of bills and invoices to document your expenses following the accident. Gather your pay stubs, W-2s, and other income records to calculate your lost earnings if you cannot work due to injuries you suffered in the crash. Start a journal to record the pain and difficulties with daily activities you experience due to your injuries and medical recovery.
- Do not post on social media — Avoid posting on social media to discuss the accident, your injuries, or your compensation claim. Do not post photos and videos of yourself while treating and rehabilitating your injuries.
- Contact an attorney— Talk to a drunk driving accident lawyer from Robinette Legal Group, PLLC as soon as possible after the crash so we can investigate your claims and prepare an effective, persuasive case strategy for your compensation. Working with a lawyer as early as possible can better protect you if the at-fault drunk driver or their insurance company tries to minimize their liability to you.
Legal Options for DUI Accident Victims
If a drunk driver has injured you, you may have several legal options for seeking financial recovery, including:
- Filing an auto insurance claim against the drunk driver or their auto insurance provider
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the drunk driver or their auto insurance provider
- Filing a claim with your own auto insurance policy if your coverage applies
- Pursuing a dram shop claim against a bar, restaurant, or other establishments that overserved alcohol to the drunk driver who hit you
A Morgantown DUI accident attorney with Robinette Legal Group, PLLC can explain the available options in your case and help you better understand what to expect while seeking financial recovery for the injuries and losses you have suffered. However, you only have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit against the drunk driver or the establishment that served them. You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident to give you a better chance of pursuing all options for compensation.
West Virginia Dram Shop Laws
Unlike other states, West Virginia does not have a specific dram shop statute – that is, a law that allows victims to pursue compensation from those who enabled the drunk driver’s intoxication. However, West Virginia courts have recognized the right of DUI accident victims to pursue legal claims against bars, restaurants, clubs, and other establishments that serve alcoholic beverages. Alcohol vendors might be held liable for a DUI accident if they serve alcohol to a visibly intoxicated patron who later causes a motor vehicle accident.
While establishments might be held liable for DUI accidents, West Virginia courts have not recognized a way to hold social hosts responsible. A DUI victim probably will not have a legal claim against a private homeowner who served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated party guest who subsequently caused an accident.
How to Prove the Other Driver Was Drunk
Proving that the other driver was drunk at the time of the crash can go a long way to establishing that they are also liable for your injuries. To establish their intoxication, your attorney will rely on evidence like:
- A criminal conviction for a DUI
- Eyewitness testimony, including witnesses who may have seen the driver consume alcohol or observed signs of intoxication such as slurred speech, glassy eyes, balance or coordination issues, or erratic driving
- Surveillance or traffic camera footage of the driver or their vehicle that shows signs of intoxication
- Open alcohol containers inside the other driver’s vehicle
- Field sobriety, breathalyzer, and blood chemical test results
- The accident report
Much of this evidence can quickly disappear if it is not collected and preserved promptly. The sooner you bring your case to a DUI accident victim attorney, the better prepared you will be to demand compensation.
Types of Compensation Available for DUI Accident Victims
If a drunk driver caused an accident that injured you, you may be entitled to recover compensation from them for expenses and losses you incurred as a result. Financial recovery for a DUI accident may include money for your:
- Costs of medical treatment for your injuries, including emergency care, hospitalization, surgeries, medical procedures, pain medications, doctor’s appointments, and physical therapy
- Costs of long-term healthcare or personal care you may need, including home health services, housekeeping services, medical and mobility equipment, and home renovations to install disability accommodations
- Loss of income from missed time from work
- Reduced earnings if you go on part-time or light-duty work while recovering from injuries
- Loss of earning capacity and job benefits if you cannot return to your job or other employment because of permanent impairments
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma or distress
- Loss of quality of life
If you take your case to court, a DUI accident lawsuit may also award you punitive damages from the at-fault drunk driver. Punitive damages are not intended to compensate you for any loss you have suffered but rather to punish the intoxicated driver for egregious conduct and discourage others from drunk driving in the future. This form of compensation is relatively rare and is capped at four times your compensation or $500,000, whichever is greater.
Talk to an Experienced DUI Accident Lawyer in Morgantown, WV
Did a drunk driver hurt you or a loved one? Then contact Robinette Legal Group, PLLC to talk to an experienced Morgantown DUI accident lawyer about pursuing a legal claim against the drunk driver. Our firm will not rest until we have held the careless driver accountable for their conduct and gotten you the financial recovery you need. We do not charge for consultations or collect a fee unless we collect compensation for you first.