Do I Have a Case?
Attorneys Fred Pritzker, Eric Hageman and Brendan Flaherty have won millions for victims of drunk driving accidents. They can be contacted for a free case evaluation by filling out the contact form or by calling their law offices at 1-888-377-8900.
What do DUI criminal charges have to do with a lawsuit for compensation?
When someone is arrested for DUI he or she will be prosecuted criminally and have his or her license revoked. But that does not mean that the driver will be ordered to pay accident victims compensation for injuries.
If the person who caused a crash is found guilty of driving under the influence (DUI), in some states called driving while intoxicated (DWI), it will help your case. You should know, however, that it is not necessary to wait for DUI charges to be filed or for a guilty verdict before you file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation.
If the drunk driver had been drinking at a bar, can I sue the owner?
You may have the right to sue the owner of a bar, restaurant or other establishment that served alcohol to the intoxicated driver prior to the crash. This is called a dram shop claim.
Generally, dram shops (bars, restaurants and other sellers of liquor) are liable when they have violated a law or regulation. While selling liquor to an obviously intoxicated customer represents the most common dram shop violation, the illegal sale of intoxicating beverages can take other forms, such as:
- Selling liquor without a license to do so;
- Selling liquor after hours; or
- Selling liquor to a minor.
There are generally no criminal charges filed against the owner of a bar or restaurant that served alcohol to someone who caused a crash. The only way to hold businesses accountable is a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation.
In one of our cases, our attorneys won a case for a 26 year-old client who was seriously injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver. She was riding on a motorcycle with her boyfriend when the motorcycle was rear ended. One of her legs was so badly crushed that it had to be amputated. The drunk driver did not have enough insurance to fully compensate our client, so we filed a lawsuit against the bar where he had been drinking and won $6 million.
How much can I get for a personal injury claim?
The “value” of your personal injury claim depends on a number of factors, including the severity of the injuries, whether there is a dram shop claim (see above), your age, your job before the crash and ability to keep doing it, and what state laws apply, to name a few.
Compensation can include the following:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost income;
- Pain and suffering – includes physical pain, disfigurement, disability and emotional distress;
- Cost of care; and
- Punitive damages – an amount of money meant to punish the party at fault for deliberately disregarding the rights or safety of others.
Can a parent sue a drunk driver on behalf of an injured child?
If your son or daughter is under 18 years of age and was injured, you can sue on behalf of your child. Some of the money won in a settlement can be used for current, uncovered medical bills, and some of it can be placed in a trust for your little one, whose life has been tragically altered because someone drove while under the influence of alcohol. As discussed above, there may be claims against both the intoxicated person and a bar (or other business that sold the person alcohol).
What if my loved one is in a coma or suffered a severe traumatic brain injury?
Our lawyers have handled many cases where the injured person was in a coma or had suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, one causing brain damage to the extent that the person could not pursue a lawsuit. In these cases, a lawsuit can be filed on that person’s behalf. For example, a wife can sue on behalf of the husband and a parent can sue on behalf of an adult child (see above regarding a minor child).
What if my family member is killed in a alcohol-related crash?
If your family member is killed, there may be a wrongful death claim under state law. When an impaired person causes a fatal accident, the spouse and next of kin may have a claim for the following:
- Funeral expenses;
- Medical expenses;
- Loss of potential earnings;
- Loss of advice, comfort, assistance, protection, counsel and society; and
- Punitive damages.
What are punitive damages for DWI?
Punitive damages are meant to punish someone for bad behavior. In this context, an aggressive litigator can make a motion for punitive damages. If a judge approves that motion, then you may get money above and beyond the regular compensation (called compensatory compensation) discussed above. There is no statutory limit on punitive damages.
A criminal charge or conviction is not a prerequisite to consideration of punitive damages. Evidence of past criminal convictions for DUI or criminal vehicular homicide or injury is admissible into evidence. Generally, if there are past criminal convictions for either of these, it is more likely that punitive damages will be awarded.
How is your law firm paid?
Our law firm is paid on a contingency basis, meaning we are not paid unless you win. This means we cover the expense of litigating your case and only get paid for that if you get a payout. This is important in cases where we have to hire accident reconstruction specialists to help prove fault.
We have a national practice.
Our attorneys pursue these cases aggressively. The insurance company is in the very difficult position of having to defend somebody who knowingly or negligently, and most certainly recklessly, went out, got drunk and then got into a car with a high BAC, had an accident and hurt somebody.
We can, and do, put the screws to the insurance company to resolve the claim fairly and quickly because the last thing the insurance company wants to do is defend these cases.
Call 1-888-377-8900 (toll free).
DUI Crash News
North Minneapolis Crash Results in Death of Mother, Grandmother
Lisa E. Esping, a mother and grandmother, was hit and killed by a suspected drunk driver on February 24, 2017. A 28-year-old man was driving his car on Newton Avenue in North Minneapolis, when he struck a small SUV, driven by Ms. Esping, that had been traveling eastbound on 29th Avenue. The impact pushed the SUV into a tree. The alleged offender was arrested for suspected criminal vehicular homicide.
A Ford Edge traveling north on on Highway 42 swerved into the southbound lane, striking the Harley Davidson motorcycle. The preliminary investigation report found that alcohol was a possible factor.
A woman from Winthrop, Minnesota, was killed in a head on crash on May 27, 2016 at 9:17 p.m. The accident happened on Highway 99 near Le Sueur County Road 140 south of Greenleaf Lake at milepost 32.
A car lost control of the vehicle and rolled, seriously injuring herself and her passenger, Brittany Baker, a 24-year-old from Elk River, Minnesota. Alcohol was detected in the driver, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.
Prosecutors in Wood County, Wisconsin, are preparing a criminal case against an offender who allegedly was intoxicated when his pickup truck slammed into a horse-drawn wagon, killing the one and severely injuring six children.
A Roseville mother is Minnesota’s latest fatal victim of alleged DUI. She was driving a minivan Saturday afternoon in Inver Grove Heights when her vehicle was slammed by a Cadillac sedan, according to police.
A man who crashed in Kaukauna, Wisconsin has been charged with homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle and is being held at the Outagamie County Jail. The passenger, a 44-year-old woman, was critically injured in the accident and died at the hospital. Read more: My Wife Was Killed by a Drunk Driver.
An Alborn, Minnesota, woman is suspected of driving while intoxicated (DWI) and faces possible charges for the death of one of her passengers and injuries suffered by two other passengers.
See more news on our personal injury blog.
Our Law Firm
Our car accident lawyers have successfully represented clients in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits throughout the United States and won millions of dollars in lawsuits against bars and restaurants, trucking and bus companies, car dealerships and others.
Twin Cities, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, Duluth, Moorhead, Mankato, Brainerd, Bloomington, Eagan, Eden Prarie, Apple Valley, Maple Grove, Edina, Plymouth, Minnetonka, Stillwater, Thief River Falls, Bemidji, Grand Rapids, Austin, Worthington, Woodbury, Maplewood, Golden Valley, Shoreview, Blaine, Anoka, South St. Paul, White Bear Lake, Roseville, St. Cloud, Arden Hills, Brooklyn Park, Forest Lake, Winona.
Drivers convicted of DUI/DWI have an average blood alcohol concentration of .16 to .18 g/dL at the time of arrest.
Compared with a nondrinking driver, the relative risk of a single-vehicle fatal crash is 382 times higher for a driver with a BAC of .15 g/dL or higher. In fact, one study found that each .02 increase in the BAC of a driver more than doubled the risk of male drivers age 16 to 29 being killed in a single-vehicle crash.
A recent study notes that 29 states have provisions for stronger sanctions for offenders with relatively higher BACs. Although more severe sanctions for high BAC offenders are becoming more common, only one evaluation of the effectiveness of these sanctions on DWI recidivism has been completed. That study found that first offenders arrested in 1998 in Minnesota (the first year of that state’s high-BAC law) who had BACs of .20 or higher had significantly lower recidivism rates than comparable offenders not subject to enhanced penalties.
Wrongful Death Claim
If your loved one is killed by a driver who was drinking prior to the fatal crash, you may have a wrongful death claim against that driver and others. If the driver was driving a vehicle owned by a business, that business may be legally responsible. If he or she was served alcohol at a bar or restaurant before the accident, the bar or restaurant may be legally responsible.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A Guide to Sentencing DWI Offenders, 2005.
- McCartt, A. T.; Shabanova, V.; and Berning, A. Effects of enhanced sanctions for higher BACs. In D. R. Mahew and C. Dussault (Eds.), Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety (Vol. 2, pp. 617-622). Montréal, Canada: Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec, 2002b.
- McCartt, A.T. and Northrup, V.S. Enhanced Sanctions for Higher BACs: Evaluation of Minnesota’s High-BAC Law. DOT HS 809 677. Washington DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2004
- Zador, P.; Krawchuck, S.; and Moore, B. Drinking and driving trips, stops by police, and arrests: Analyses of the 1995 national survey of drinking and driving attitudes and behavior. DOT HS 809 184. Washington DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2000, Dec.