Collisions caused by intoxicated drivers can be incredibly destructive in nature and lead to serious life-changing injuries. Despite the tragic aftermath of these accidents, drunk driving arrest numbers continue to be high each year within the state, along with the many intoxicated motorists that do not get caught.
You may feel inclined to handle a drunk driving accident case yourself. However, evidence that an individual was charged or convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol might not automatically be admissible in a civil claim for damages. A lawyer will be familiar with the Rules of Evidence, and it is noted that pro se litigants are expected to follow the same rules as experienced attorneys. Having a seasoned Johnstown vehicle wreck attorney on your side can help ensure that you stand the best chance possible at recovery. A Johnstown drunk driver accident lawyer could assist you in pursuing the compensation for your injuries that you deserve.
Limited Tort Exceptions in Johnstown
Under state insurance law, an insured party must select a tort option of either limited tort or full tort. This selection impacts the insured person’s ability to recover certain damages in the case of an accident. For instance, the limited tort selection generally does not allow for the recovery of pain and suffering damages. However, state law has certain exceptions for limited tort insureds, which are especially relevant in intoxicated driving accident cases.
One exception to the limited tort option under 75 P.S. §1705(d)(1)(i) is for individuals injured by a negligent or reckless drunk driver that later pleads guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol, is found guilty of DUI, or is permitted to enter the Pennsylvania Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program in lieu of a conviction for a DUI. If the limited tort is selected, the victim injured by the drunk driver can still pursue pain and suffering damages, as if he or she selected the full tort option. The police should always be contacted following an accident, particularly if the other driver is suspected to be under the influence.
Plaintiffs may also recover punitive damages due to the reckless nature of driving under the influence of alcohol. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for his or her behavior and discourage him or her from acting this way again in the future.
It is important to note that a conviction or entering into ARD is not inherently necessary for an injured individual to recover compensation. Additional limited tort exceptions do exist under state law, and could be further explained by a local attorney well-versed in drunk driving accident cases.
Dram Shop Liability for Intoxicated Motorists
A dram shop is a term from 18th century England that describes a bar or establishment allowed to serve and sell alcoholic beverages. State dram shop laws allow an injured party to seek compensation from all responsible parties that contributed to the accident, including the bar that served the drunk driver alcohol in some cases.
Dram shop laws hold the bar or other establishment responsible if they sold alcohol to an individual that was visibly intoxicated and that individual then injured a person due to intoxication. Other actions that may subject a bar, establishment, or private party host to liability include serving alcohol to minors, serving alcohol without a liquor license, and serving alcohol after hours. Evidence that could be used to prove that an individual was visibly intoxicated at the time of service of the alcoholic beverage include:
- Bloodshot or glassy eyes;
- Slurred or incoherent speech;
- Stumbling or trouble walking;
- Impaired ability to do tasks such as signing a receipt; and
- Dropping items.
Proving that the drunk driver was visibly intoxicated when a bar or other establishment served him or her alcohol is the main difficulty associated with dram shop cases. A skilled attorney in Johnstown could obtain security footage, receipts, rules for serving patrons, other necessary evidence and interview any relevant witnesses to help determine if a bar or other establishment may be responsible for a drunk driving accident.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Johnstown Drunk Driver Accident Attorney Today
Drunk driving accidents are severe and often could be avoided by the intoxicated individual exercising proper judgment. If you suffered severe, life-changing injuries due to a drunk driver’s actions, the responsible parties should be held accountable. A Johnstown drunk driver accident lawyer could pursue all possible avenues of recovery under the law and fight to ensure that your injuries are fairly compensated. Call to speak with an experienced lawyer at Marcus & Mack today.