Every driver who gets behind the wheel in Tennessee owes a duty to other motorists to drive with reasonable care. Individuals who drive on Knoxville roads under the influence of alcohol have failed in their duty to drive safely. The impaired drivers’ negligence can cause an accident in which innocent motorists suffer serious, even fatal injuries and significant property damages.
If you or your loved one has suffered a traumatic accident at the hands of a drunk driver, you can trust the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC, to help you recover compensation for your financial losses. Call us today at 865-546-1111 to schedule a free, legal consultation with a drunk driving accident lawyer in Knoxville.
What If the Drunk Driver Is Facing Criminal Charges?
If you suffered injuries from a drunk driving accident, you may pursue compensation through civil means by filing an insurance claim for such expenses as your medical bills, lost wages, and funeral expenses—if a loved one died in the crash. Depending on the factors involved in your accident, the drunk driver who hit your vehicle may also face criminal charges. Even if the other driver is facing criminal charges, we can hold them responsible in the civil court system. We can also assist you if you must give a statement to a prosecutor or district attorney in connection with the criminal investigation.
When authorities suspect alcohol is a factor in a car crash, the police will administer a blood alcohol content (BAC) level test to the suspected drunk driver. If the driver’s BAC level is .08 percent or higher, the driver could face criminal charges and a prison sentence if someone suffered serious injuries or death as a result of the accident.
For instance, a vehicular assault charge, which involves serious injury to another person by a drunk driver, is a Class D Felony punishable by:
- Two to 12 years in prison;
- A driver’s license suspension of one to five years; and
- Fines and court costs.
A crash involving a fatality is a Class B felony, which carries penalties like eight to 30 years in prison, plus a maximum $25,000 fine.
How an Attorney Will Help Settle Your Claim
Generally, an insurance company wants to settle claims filed against its policy holders for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). However, the typical low settlement amount that auto insurers offer may not cover all of your accident-related expenses. If you decide to accept a settlement, you cannot ask for more compensation in the future. That could leave you paying for your future medical costs out of your own pocket.
Having our law firm work on your behalf means we will not allow an insurance company to pay the smallest amount of money to get rid of your claim. Not only do we help you file your claim, we also negotiate the settlement for you.
Our attorneys have decades of collective experience and we know how the insurance system works. We strive to get you full and fair compensation for your injuries and financial losses.
Can I Ask the Criminal Court for Compensation for My Injuries?
Yes, a sentencing judge can order compensation and restitution to victims of certain crimes, including drunk driving accident victims and their survivors. This compensation covers medical expenses, lost wages, funeral and burial expenses, and loss of support to dependent relatives of a deceased victim. To be eligible for compensation, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must have sustained a personal injury from a violent crime;
- You must not have contributed in any way to the crime;
- You must have reported the crime within 48 hours;
- You must cooperate with the investigation; and
- You must file a claim within one year of the crime.
Tennessee caps compensation at $30,000, which may not cover all of your accident-related expenses, and does not provide for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, or for future expenses. We recommend filing an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit to cover your present and future expenses. If the driver receives a DUI conviction, the driver’s insurance company may be willing to offer you a higher compensation amount.
What Happens If the Drunk Driver Does Not Have Insurance?
You can still recover compensation for your damages if you have Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage in your auto insurance policy. Your UM coverage equals the limits of your property damage and bodily injury amounts. While auto insurance companies must offer this coverage, motorists can reject UM insurance. If you have UM coverage, we can help you file a claim with your own insurance company to recover your accident-related losses.
What Damages Can I Recover?
Whether you file a claim with your own insurance or the other driver’s company, you may pursue compensation for such damages as:
- Medical expenses;
- Hospitalization costs;
- Lost earnings;
- In-patient rehabilitation;
- Assistive medical devices, such as wheelchairs, neck braces, or canes;
- Vehicle repairs; and
- Pain and suffering.
You may also recover punitive damages if a court finds evidence that the driver engaged in malicious, intentional, fraudulent, or reckless conduct that caused you injury. Punitive damages punish a person’s bad behavior and discourage other people from acting in the same manner. These damages cannot exceed two times the amount of economic damages or $500,000—whichever amount is highest.
How Tennessee’s Statute of Limitations Impacts Your Claim
The state only gives you one year from the date of your accident to take legal action. If the driver in your accident faces criminal charges, we recommend moving forward with your civil claim as soon as possible so you do not miss out on your opportunity to recover compensation.
Call the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC, Today for Help With Your Drunk Driving Accident Claim.
Contact the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC, at 865-546-1111 for a free consultation with a drunk driving accident lawyer in Knoxville. We seek maximum compensation for victims who suffer injury or death because of a drunk driver’s negligence.