Despite decades of warnings and law enforcement campaigns, motorists in Pennsylvania still too often get behind the wheel while they are drunk or drugged.
Sadly, because driving under the influence often leads to serious errors and lapses in judgment, drunk driving accidents often leave victims dead or permanently crippled.
Especially after a debilitating injury, a family may face millions in medical bills, lost wages, and the like all because of an accident that was entirely preventable.
In short, they will need all the financial help they can get, and it is only fair for those responsible for the accident to provide this assistance. For a number of reasons, it may be difficult to get the compensation victims deserved, so it is important to know about many possible sources of recovery.
First party benefits in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has a robust system of what the state’s laws call first party benefits. Victims of accidents can collect these benefits on a no-fault basis from their own insurance company, assuming of course they purchased them.
These can go a long way toward securing compensation after a drunk driving accident. Moreover, the idea behind first party benefits is that, since a victim does not have to prove negligence, they can be paid efficiently and without a lot of legal haggling.
Other coverages through one’s own insurance company may be available, particularly if the driver does not have the ability to pay.
Like other states, Pennsylvania allows victims of car accidents to request punitive damages under the right circumstances. The law in Pennsylvania about punitive damage can be complicated and includes limits.
Suffice it to say, though, that an award of punitive damages is more likely after a drunk driving accident than, say, an accident in which a driver just made a careless mistake that ended up causing a serious accident.
If the drunk driver was operating a vehicle as part of his or her job, then the victim may seek compensation from the driver’s employer. Likewise, even if there is no employer-employee liability, as in the case of an independent contractor, a victim may still have a claim against the person or firm that was directing the drunk driver’s work at the time of the accident.
Finally, those authorized in this state to serve alcohol may be held liable for the behavior of their patrons in certain circumstances. Specifically, if the bar or restaurant serves alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated, and that person leaves and causes a drunk driving accident, the establishment may owe compensation.
The good news is that victims of drunk drivers who live in an around Hermitage have plenty of possible options for recovering compensation. They will want to evaluate these options carefully after a serious accident.