You’ve heard the story time and again: a driver has too much to drink at a party or bar, chooses to drive home, and ends up in a horrible accident. If that accident is with you, you need to know the facts of how to protect yourself. Punitive damages may be sought, but under Arizona law, they are difficult to get and are not available in every drunk-driving situation. Typically, punitive damages are not covered by the driver’s insurance policy, so even when they are awarded, they may not be available.
Drinking and Driving Comes with a High Price Tag
Regardless of what might happen, an aggressive approach needs to be taken in every drunk driving accident. The insurance company owes a duty to its driver, even if he or she was intoxicated at the time of the accident. The company cannot expose the driver to uncovered damages, such as punitive damages, so somewhat higher damage limits can often be obtained in these cases. Every claim has a range of values, and your attorney should work to reach the higher end of that range.
Driving under the influence is irresponsible; drivers who do so are also irresponsible. Too often, the driver is also fiscally irresponsible and may have inadequate insurance coverage, carrying only the state-mandated minimum coverage. In Arizona, that means the most any one person can receive is $15,000, and the most that all injured parties can receive is $30,000.
Underinsured motorist coverage can take effect above and beyond the drunk driver’s policy limits, if available. Your attorney needs to examine all components of such a case, including where the driver had too much to drink. In some cases, litigation can be brought against a bar or restaurant. Be sure that your attorney is familiar with these types of cases and will work to get you all that you deserve.