Can I Sue The Drunk Driver That Hit Me?

This case is probably going to be a tricky one. There may be two separate cases going on here: there’s a criminal case against the driver for committing a crime by driving drunk and hurting someone, and there’s a civil case against the driver for hurting you or damaging your property. The drunk driver might be asked to pay a fine in the criminal case, but that fine will go to the state, not to you. If you sue to recover damages, that will happen in civil court.

You may have some liability protection or ability to recover damages from sources other than the at-fault driver’s insurance.

Suing The At-fault Driver Directly

When a driver who does not have insurance is found to be at fault for an accident, it’s possible to file a lawsuit against them directly to compensate you for your damages. Be aware, however, that most people do not have enough money saved up to cover all the damages that a severe accident can cause. If you were hit by a drunk driver, that person might also be paying a fine or spending some time in jail, further cutting down on their personal savings and their ability to pay you back for the accident.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Your own insurance company may offer coverage for damages caused by uninsured motorists. Be aware that you have to have this protection in place before the accident. This isn’t something you can buy now and apply to damages from before you bought it.

Even though you’re dealing with your own insurance company, it’s possible that opening a case to recover damages could get contentious. Your insurance company may make an attempt not to pay out by using the same defenses that the at-fault driver’s insurance company would have used if you sued them directly. If you are asking for a lot of money to cover the damages you incurred in the accident, it might be a good idea to consult with a personal injury attorney.

Crime Victims Compensation

The State of Washington has a pool of money set aside to help victims of violent crimes recover from their injuries and pay for expenses caused by criminals. This is called the Washington State Crime Victim Compensation Program. There are some limits on how much this program can pay out and what the money can be used for. If you end up recovering damages from another source, you may have to pay back the fund.

Chris Davis
Top-rated, award-winning, attorney practicing wrongful death & serious injury law in Seattle.