There is no shortage of information about the dangers of drunk driving and lives ruined as a result of drunk driving accidents. Not only is drunk driving illegal, but it puts everyone who shares the road at risk for accidents and injuries. Drunk driving accident victims often face emotional trauma and financial difficulties on top of the physical pain of injury.
If you have sustained injuries in a Boston drunk driving accident, Massachusetts law permits you to sue the drunk driver who harmed you in civil court to recover economic and non-economic losses related to the accident. At Dolman Law Group, we understand the struggles drunk driving accident victims face.
We are committed to helping you get the justice you deserve and holding the drunk driver who harmed you responsible for the choice to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.
If you live in the greater Boston area, contact us for a free consultation to discuss the facts of your drunk driving accident, the injuries you suffered, and how they have impacted your life.
Dolman Law Group's Results in Drunk Driving Accident Cases
The skilled personal injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group have represented numerous clients who have injuries because of a drunk driver. The firm is passionate about holding drunk drivers accountable and helping their clients get the justice they deserve. Dolman Law Group's commitment to client service has led to millions of dollars in recovered damages in traffic accident cases.
In a recent case, we recovered $939,000 for a client who was injured in a drunk driving accident. Our client was a backseat passenger in a rideshare vehicle that was T-boned by a speeding drunk driver. He went to the hospital via ambulance to receive treatment for immediate injuries and left the same day. He soon suffered from chronic pain in his shoulder, neck, and lower back; he also developed painful headaches. Our client ultimately suffered from a mild traumatic brain injury, and he required shoulder surgery and spinal injections.
We secured a $100,000 settlement from the drunk driver's insurance carrier, the maximum amount for his policy, and prepared a claim against the ridesharing company's underinsured motorist coverage. After negotiations went awry, we prepared the case for trial. We sent a final demand letter for settlement before trial and secured another $839,000 for our client.
The above serves as an example of results but does not guarantee a specific financial outcome for your drunk driving accident case. We have extensive experience in investigating, negotiating, settling, and litigating accident injury claims. We will aggressively pursue the best outcome possible for your drunk driving accident case.
Boston Drunk Driving Accident Victims Can Suffer Severe Injuries
Boston has the second-highest drunk driving conviction rate of all large cities in the United States. Many of these drunk drivers cause accidents, some of which lead to severe or fatal injuries.
Fortunately, every drunk driving accident in Boston does not. Drunk driving accident victims who suffer minor injuries can typically recover their losses through their mandatory Massachusetts personal injury protection (PIP) policy, and you will want our help to file that claim with your insurance company.
Damages may extend into the hundreds of thousands and millions when drunk driving accident victims suffer severe injuries, permanent disabilities, or death. These severe injuries often require the experience and finesse of a Boston drunk driving accident attorney to seek compensation commensurate with injuries. Examples of drunk driving accident injuries we handle for our clients include the following.
Fractured bones often lead to claims, but when drunk driving accident victims suffer multiple fractures or have crushed bones, the claims grow in proportion to the injuries. These fractures typically require one or more reconstructive surgeries, including steel plates, pins, screws, and other devices to help the new bone growth.
Victims must often cope with lifelong complications such as pain, discomfort, and arthritis from severe fractures, even after surgery. If you suffered multiple fractures or crushed bones in a drunk driving accident, it's best to consult with an experienced attorney.
The impact of a traffic collision, including those involving drunk drivers, causes a jolt to a person's head, which can lead to a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Direct trauma to the head during a drunk driving accident can also lead to a TBI. For example, drivers and front-seat passengers risk hitting their heads on the steering column, dashboard, or windshield.
Backseat passengers sometimes hit their heads on the seat in front of them. Even mild TBIs can have long-term effects on accident victims. Troubles with memory, cognitive functions, and communication often accompany brain injuries. Some patients also undergo personality changes and mental health issues. The most severe TBIs can lead to coma or a permanent vegetative state (PVS).
The same impact that leads to TBIs in a drunk driving accident sometimes also causes neck injuries. Some accident victims suffer sprains, strains, and other soft tissue damage in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the neck. Severe soft tissue damage, such as a tear, often requires surgery, but minor sprains and strains typically heal without intervention.
Drunk driving accident victims sometimes also fracture neck vertebrae or suffer from herniated or slipped discs during an accident. These types of injuries can be catastrophic, but even mild injuries sometimes lead accident victims to suffer from residual headaches and pain that radiates from their necks.
The force of a drunk driving accident can cause considerable physical trauma that includes back injuries. Accident victims can suffer a wide range of back injuries depending on how fast the collision occurred, whether they were wearing a seatbelt, whether airbags were deployed, and the location where they were sitting in a vehicle. Broken vertebrae and bulged discs are common painful back injuries.
Drunk driving accident victims who suffer serious back injuries face chronic lifelong pain and discomfort that often remains even after one or more corrective surgeries.
Additionally, many people who sustain back injuries often must rely on pain management methods to get through the day. This could include things such as cortisone shots, prescription painkillers, and surgically implanted pain management devices.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are among the most dangerous, costly, and potentially catastrophic of all possible injuries a victim might suffer in a drunk driving accident. Bruises on the spinal cord are the least problematic because any loss of function typically returns once the swelling goes away and the bruises heal.
Any spinal cord injuries sustained in a drunk driving accident that go beyond bruising, such as cuts or lodged bone fragments, have the potential to cause permanent paralysis.
The exact area of the body that becomes paralyzed depends on the location of the injury along the spinal cord. Injuries that occur closer to the brain result in a greater loss of function because messages cannot travel throughout the rest of the nervous system.
Those who suffer paralysis sometimes face life in a wheelchair and almost always need ongoing care and treatment. In the worst-case scenarios, drunk driving accident victims who suffer a spinal cord injury might need around-the-clock care at home or in a long-term care facility.
Drunk driving accidents that occur at high speeds put drivers and occupants at risk for amputation. Vehicles often crumple, which can pin arms and legs or crush them under a seat, under the dash, or under the steering column.
Crushed limbs lose blood flow and begin to die. If left untreated for too long, an infection sets in and begins to spread throughout the body, ultimately leading to death. After a drunk driving accident, the first goal medical professionals have concerning crushed limbs is to restore blood flow and prevent infection.
Sometimes this is not possible, so doctors are forced to make the difficult decision to amputate. Amputees need extensive time to heal but can still experience chronic stump pain and phantom limb pain.
Learning how to use a prosthetic device, which many describe as frustrating, and coping with the psychological trauma of losing a limb is also an ongoing process.
Dram Shop Laws in Massachusetts
Many states have laws, called dram shop laws, that allow drunk driving accident victims to seek compensation for damages from the individual or business who served alcohol to the drunk driver who caused an accident and injuries. Some state laws are more detailed than others.
Massachusetts does not have a specific law that allows people to make a civil claim against a third party. Still, it is illegal for businesses to sell or serve alcohol to an intoxicated person. Massachusetts courts have held third parties liable for damages in these situations.
If the drunk driver who hit you bought alcohol at a bar, restaurant, or another establishment before causing the accident and your injuries, that place of business could be liable for damages. In Massachusetts, social hosts also open themselves to financial liability if they serve alcohol to a minor that gets behind the wheel and causes an accident.
Seeking Damages in Civil Court After a Boston Drunk Driving Accident
If you bring a lawsuit against the drunk driver and/or the party who served the driver alcohol, you could receive compensation for damages in civil court. Drunk driving accident victims receive compensation from an insurance settlement or jury verdict in their favor.
This includes a wide range of compensatory damages for economic and non-economic losses. In extreme cases of willful harm or gross negligence, a drunk driving accident victim might also receive punitive damages.
Examples of common damages awarded to drunk driving accident victims include compensation for:
- Medical expenses included ambulance services, emergency room treatment, hospitalization, surgery, diagnostic imaging, follow-up visits, medication, and travel expenses related to medical treatment
- Estimated future medical treatment costs for permanent disabilities, additional surgeries, and ongoing medical expenses related to a drunk driving accident
- Rehabilitation expenses for specialized treatments such as physical therapy, behavioral therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy
- Lost wages from missing work due to a drunk driving accident, hospitalization, and recovery
- Lost earning capacity when a drunk driving accident causes a catastrophic injury that prevents an accident victim from working
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Scarring and disfigurement
If a loved one has died from fatal injuries sustained in a Boston drunk driving accident, eligible surviving family members have the right to seek compensation for damages in a wrongful death lawsuit against the drunk driver who caused the accident or a third party. Those who prevail in a wrongful death action can recover some damages and receive additional compensation for burial costs and funeral expenses.
Wrongful death lawsuits also compensate family members for non-economic losses such as loss of companionship or loss of parental support. Your Boston drunk driving accident lawyer can answer any questions you have about wrongful death lawsuits and your eligibility for receiving compensation.
Boston Drunk Driving Accident FAQs
Drunk drivers know they are breaking the law when they get behind the wheel, but they do it anyway. This choice leads to dangerous accidents that sometimes result in severe, life-threatening, and fatal injuries.
If a drunk driver's negligence has led to your injuries, Massachusetts law permits you to seek money for damages in civil court for losses related to the accident and your injuries. You should not have to suffer the economic consequences of someone else's bad choices.
You might be unsure about your next steps. An experienced Boston drunk driving accident lawyer can evaluate your case and advise you on the best course of action for your circumstances.
The following answers to frequently asked questions about drunk driving accidents in Boston provide some preliminary information until you have the chance to consult with an attorney.
What Should I Do If a Boston Drunk Driver Hits My Car?
The steps you need to take after a drunk driving accident differ based on how long it's been since the event. Below, find important steps to take beginning within minutes after the crash or as soon after as possible. Some drunk driver accident injuries make it difficult or impossible to take care of these things.
If you are physically unable or unconscious, a passenger, friend, or family member can help you.
- Call 9-1-1. If you can call 9-1-1, you need to do so immediately. This way, the police and emergency services come to the accident scene. This ensures law enforcement knows about your accident and will come to investigate the scene and file an official crash report. Also, anyone who has suffered injuries gets the immediate help they need.
- Exchange information with the drunk driver. Although the police will take down contact information when they arrive, you can gather your own information. Get the contact and insurance information from the drunk driver who hit you. Yet, you should proceed with caution if it seems the driver is angry, belligerent, or threatening. Each person responds to alcohol differently. If you are unsure, stay in your vehicle until someone else arrives at the scene of the accident.
- Gather evidence to support your claim. Get contact information from any witnesses who stop at the accident scene and information from any occupants in the other vehicle. Take note of traffic conditions, weather conditions, and road conditions. You should also note if you smell beer or liquor on the other driver or see bottles or cans in their vehicle. Finally, use your smartphone to take video or photos of the scene of the accident, license plates, and any visible bodily injury.
- Seek medical treatment. It's not uncommon for drunk driving accidents to lead to severe and sometimes deadly injuries that require anyone involved to go to the nearest emergency room in an ambulance. If you walked away from the accident and avoided medical treatment, you need to let a physician examine you within a day or two. It's best for your health and well-being. Even something as simple as a headache or stomach pain can indicate a serious injury. Some accident injuries do not show symptoms for hours or days after an accident. Plus, your medical record supports your drunk driving accident claim.
- File an insurance claim under your PIP policy. You need to file a claim with your auto insurance carrier as soon as possible, so your mandatory personal injury protection coverage kicks in to cover medical expenses and lost wages. Receiving money from the drunk driver's insurance company could take months or years, so your PIP coverage will help get some money in your hands in the interim.
- Contact a Boston drunk driving accident attorney. Drunk driving accident cases can be complex because of multiple parties, insurance coverage issues, and arguments about liability. An experienced lawyer anticipates these challenges and knows how to help clients get the justice they deserve. Consult with a lawyer to learn about the best steps to take to preserve the value of your claim.
How does No-Fault Insurance Affect My Right to Sue After a Boston Drunk Driving Accident?
Massachusetts' no-fault insurance system requires motorists who register a vehicle to carry a minimum of $8,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. After a drunk driving accident, anyone who sustained injuries files an insurance claim under their PIP policy or one that covers them.
For example, children fall under their parents' policy. Massachusetts PIP covers medical expenses and lost wages up to the policy limit. Once you accumulate $2,000 in medical treatment costs, Massachusetts law permits you to step outside the no-fault system and file a claim under the drunk driver's liability coverage to recoup losses related to the accident.
What Should I Do Of the Boston Drunk Driver Who Caused the Accident Is Uninsured?
Motorists who register a vehicle in Massachusetts must carry bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance and uninsured motorist (UM) insurance. Minimum amounts for both types of coverage are $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. If the drunk driver who hit you does not have insurance, you can file a claim under your UM coverage once you've exhausted your PIP policy limit.
Once you meet or exceed your UM policy limit, you will have to absorb the remainder of your losses unless you directly sue the drunk driver. Yet, if the driver had ample financial resources, he or she would likely have insurance. Even if you prevail in your claim, you will likely have difficulty collecting the money unless the driver has a high-paying job.
Drunk Driving Is Illegal, So Why do I Have to Sue the Boston Dunk Driver for Damages?
Criminal charges and possible conviction for drunk driving is different from a civil lawsuit to seek compensation for damages from a drunk driving accident. Each process is separate, and the outcomes do not impact each other. A drunk driving conviction in Massachusetts comes with penalties like fines, driver's license suspension, driver's license revocation, jail time, and community service.
A jury in a criminal trial must find the driver is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to convict, and all jurors must agree. Criminal trials for drunk driving typically end before a civil trial begins. Boston personal injury lawyers may want to see the criminal trial outcome before filing a lawsuit on behalf of their clients.
In a civil trial, the jury listens to the facts of the case and decides whether the defendant's behavior was negligent and whether he or she is financially responsible for damages related to the drunk driving accident and injuries. Not all jurors need to agree; only a majority of the jurors must find that the drunk driver is more likely negligent than not based on a preponderance of the evidence.
Can I Sue a Business Establishment or Social Host Who Served Alcohol to the Boston Driver Who Hit Me?
Massachusetts does not have dram shop laws that allow for drunk driving accident victims to bring a civil lawsuit against alcohol vendors. However, selling alcohol to an intoxicated person is illegal. Massachusetts courts have held bars, restaurants, and other establishments liable when they served a drunk person who later caused an accident.
Social hosts also open themselves up to liability for damages related to a drunk driving accident if they knowingly provide alcohol to someone under the legal drinking age and the minor causes an accident.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Boston Drunk Driving Accident Claim?
Under Massachusetts law, you have three years to bring a lawsuit against the drunk driver or another third party whose negligence led to the accident and your injuries. Massachusetts courts are bound to this deadline, so it's crucial that you act quickly and not miss out on the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
A court will probably not hear your drunk driving case after the statute of limitations runs out, no matter how strong your case is. However, the law does provide for a few rare exceptions.
For example, if the drunk driver left the state to avoid a lawsuit, the court might toll, (pause) the statute of limitations until the driver returns. If you are worried about your statute of limitations, you should contact an attorney. He or she can review the facts of your case and find out if your situation warrants a rare extension.
Can I Bring a Lawsuit If I Sustained Injuries As a Passenger in the Boston Drunk Driver's Vehicle?
Yes, you can sue the driver when you are a passenger. If you have mandatory PIP coverage, you must file a claim under your own insurance policy. After you accumulate more than $2,000 in medical expenses, you can step outside the no-fault insurance system and file an insurance claim with the driver's insurance company and a lawsuit if necessary.
However, you might not receive the full amount of your claim because you decided to ride with a drunk driver. If you have a viable claim, you will likely receive something to offset some of the economic losses incurred from the drunk driving accident.
Some feel awkward about filing an insurance claim or bringing a lawsuit against a friend or family member. However, if you've suffered severe injuries, the cost of medical expenses and lost wages can overwhelm you.
Think of taking action as purely business and protecting your economic well-being. You can remove the emotion from the situation by letting an experienced drunk driving accident attorney handle the claim and communicate with the insurance company and other relevant parties.
Will My Boston Drunk Driving Accident Claim Go to Trial?
Your drunk driving claim could go to trial, but more of a chance exists that you will reach a settlement agreement before litigation. Most traffic accident claims settle before court and liability is often clear when a drunk driver is involved, making settlement more likely.
Additionally, both sides have a motivation to reach an agreeable settlement amount because going to trial is expensive. However, sometimes settlement negotiations fail, and those involved cannot agree on the claim's value. In these cases, you will have to go to court.
Who Pays for My Medical Bills While I'm Waiting to Resolve My Boston Drunk Driving Accident Claim?
Although the outcome of your drunk driving accident claim might mean the driver is financially responsible for damages, you are ultimately responsible for paying your medical bills. If you have minor injuries, your PIP coverage will likely pay for all of your medical expenses immediately after the accident.
Once you go beyond your PIP limit, your health insurance might cover some treatment. You must pay for anything not covered by your auto or health insurance. This leaves some drunk driving accident victims overwhelmed and unable to pay for their medical care.
Some accident victims choose not to pay until their claim is resolved. You can potentially do this, but only with the permission of your health care provider. Communication is the key to avoiding collections or wrecking your credit. Many providers will arrange a payment plan or put accounts on hold when they know patients are amidst an accident claim.
When your claim is resolved through settlement or litigation with the drunk driver's insurance carrier, you will receive reimbursement for any bills you have paid if you prevailed in your claim.
It's common for an attorney to call your medical providers to suspend collection on your bills until your litigation concludes. They could pay any unpaid bills from your settlement or judgment before dispersing the remaining funds to you.
How Long Before My Boston Drunk Driving Accident Claim Resolves?
Boston drunk driving accident claims vary in the length of time they take to settle or litigate. You could settle within a few months. If you have to go to trial, you can expect to wait at least a year and likely much longer. Many factors influence the timeline of a drunk driving accident claim.
Those with severe injuries need to wait longer for their lawyer to value their case. Multiple parties, liability disputes, and coordinating schedules for witnesses and experts are examples of some common things that can slow down the claims/lawsuit process.
Your Boston drunk driving accident lawyer can advise you of any challenges your case presents that could impact your timeline.
What Should I Do If I Suspect the Other Driver Who Hit Me Was Drinking?
If you believe the other driver in the accident was drinking, you should let the police know, so they can investigate further. Most of the time, the police automatically will look for signs of intoxication from all parties involved with the accident. This way, you may not need to alert them to your suspicions about the other driver.
But if your accident occurred at a time when drunk driving is not common, such as the middle of a weekday, police will appreciate a heads-up about your suspicions.
Never confront the other driver directly and make an angry accusation about drinking and driving. If the other driver was drinking before the accident, the level of intoxication could cause the other driver to behave erratically and could place your health in further danger. Let police officers deal with it.
What If the Other Driver Is Below the Legal Limit for an Official Drunk Driving Charge?
The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles spells out the rules for drinking and driving in the state. A driver who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater may receive a charge of operating under the influence (OUI). Police may run a BAC test on the other driver after an accident to determine whether the driver should receive an OUI charge.
Even if the driver's BAC tests below 0.08% and the driver does not receive an official OUI charge, our team still may be able to use the fact that the other driver was drinking as part of our claim. Even a small amount of alcohol can affect a driver's ability to operate a motor vehicle safely, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Even at a BAC of 0.02%, a driver may experience a loss of judgment and an altered mood.
If we can show that this loss of judgment played a role in the accident that the other driver caused, we can use this information to help our case. We do not necessarily have to have an OUI charge against the other driver.
What If I Cannot Afford to Hire You As My Boston Drunk Driving Accident Attorney?
We understand that when you are trying to recover from your injuries related to a drunk driver hitting your car, you may be unable to work. This can leave you in a financial pinch. Trust that we do not want to add to your financial worries.
This is why our team works on a contingency-fee basis. We do not ask our clients to pay us anything ahead of time to secure our representation. Instead, we receive our fee at the end, as our fee will be a percentage of the final award in the case.
This aligns our aims for the case with yours. If we win a larger award for you, we also earn more money in our fee. We always will work to help you win the settlement you deserve. If we do not recover an award for you, you do not owe us anything for our representation.
Let a Boston Drunk Driver Accident Lawyer Help
Dolman Law Group understands the challenges you face in the aftermath of a drunk driving accident, and we want to help you through this difficult time. We can investigate your accident to build the strongest case possible against the drunk driver who harmed you.
You should not have to shoulder the financial burden of accident injuries on top of the physical pain. We want to assist you in seeking justice and recovering compensation for the losses you have incurred due to your drunk driving accident.
If you suffered injuries in a Boston drunk driving accident or someone you love tragically died because of a drunk driver, you need experienced legal counsel in your corner to advocate for you.
Contact Dolman Law Group for a free consultation to discuss the circumstances of your drunk driving accident, discuss your injuries, and learn more about the legal process of recovering damages.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
76 Canal Street, Suite 302
Boston, MA 02114