When drivers make the reckless choice to get behind the wheel while intoxicated, they put themselves and everyone else on the road in danger. If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in an accident with a drunk driver, you can demand justice and financial compensation for the harm you have suffered.
At Sumner Law Group, LLC, our St. Louis drunk driving accident attorneys have more than 50 years of collective legal experience getting justice for those who have been hurt in senseless crashes. There is absolutely no excuse for drunk driving, and we will aggressively fight to hold the drunk driver who hurt you accountable. Our attorneys will demand the maximum compensation you deserve.
Understanding Drunk Driving Accident Liability
If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, there could be multiple liable parties. Depending on the circumstances in your case, you could potentially seek compensation from:
The intoxicated driver
Driving under the influence of alcohol, or driving while intoxicated (DWI), is illegal in the state of Missouri. A drunk driver may be held financially responsible for any harm caused in a crash. (Compensation would typically come from the intoxicated driver’s insurance company.)
Dram shop liability
Under Missouri’s Dram Shop Law, a person injured in a drunk driving accident may bring a claim for compensation against any bar or restaurant if the establishment serves alcohol to someone under the age of 21 or a visibly intoxicated person. The statute defines a person as “visibly intoxicated” when the person has significantly uncoordinated physical action or significant physical dysfunction. A person’s blood alcohol content may serve as relevant but not conclusive evidence that the person was “visibly intoxicated.” However, when a patron does not appear “visibly intoxicated,” a bar or restaurant generally cannot be held liable by someone who suffers injuries in a DUI accident caused by that patron.
Compensation for a Drunk Driving Accident Injury
If you’ve been injured in a crash caused by a drunk driver, you may be entitled to compensation for losses that you have suffered due to the accident. This may include payment for:
- Medical bills and other costs of treatment
- Long-term care expenses such as physical and occupational rehabilitation, home health care services, or home alterations (such as wheelchair ramps or stairlifts) to accommodate disabilities caused by your injuries
- Lost wages and income
- Lost earning potential due to disabilities that affect your ability to work
- Lost quality of life due to difficulties in completing tasks of daily living or participating in activities you enjoy
- Pain and suffering
Time Limit for Filing a Drunk Driving Accident Claim
If you choose to pursue compensation for your drunk driving injuries, Missouri’s statute of limitations requires you to file your lawsuit within five years from the date of your accident. Minor children injured in a drunk driving accident have five years from their 21st birthday to file a lawsuit.
If you do not bring your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires on your claim, the court will likely dismiss your case.
Difference Between Criminal DWI Charges and a Civil Case
A drunk driving accident may give rise to a criminal DWI charge and a civil case brought by the accident victims. Those two types of cases have important differences:
- A criminal case is filed by state prosecutors, whose goal is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver operated a vehicle while legally
- intoxicated. Penalties can include time in jail, fines, and license suspension.
A civil injury claim is brought by a person who suffers injury as a result of the DWI accident. The injured party may recover financial compensation for losses through this type of claim.
How a St. Louis Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Can Help You
If you have been seriously hurt in a drunk driving accident in St. Louis, the skilled attorneys at Sumner Law Group, LLC, can help you by:
- Securing vital evidence, including police reports, accident scene photos, surveillance and dashcam footage, eyewitness statements, vehicle damage reports, and toxicology reports
- Working with our network of experts to develop an effective legal case for the drunk driver’s liability for your injuries
- Documenting your losses to support your claim for full compensation
- Filing insurance claims and negotiating with adjusters and defense lawyers to pursue a fair settlement
- Preparing your case for trial so we will be ready to take your case to court if a settlement is not reached
Contact our law firm today for a free consultation with a knowledgeable St. Louis drunk driving accident lawyer. We represent accident victims on a contingency fee basis, which means you will not pay anything upfront for our legal services. We will not collect anything from you until we win your case. We know how much is at stake and how much results matter to you. We will do everything in our power to help you secure the compensation you need. Call us or fill our contact us form today for help.