North Carolina Law on Drunk Driving Wrecks
North Carolina drunk driving accidents almost always result in criminal liability, you may also recover compensation for your injuries in civil court. From the perspective of the injured, a criminal finding of drunk driving can allow you to seek punitive damages from the at-fault driver, which may result in a larger compensation amount.
Possible Damages from Drunk Driver Accidents
Compensation damages are sought for compensation of general losses, such as:
- Medical bills;
- Surgical costs;
- Lost wages; and
- Pain and suffering.
These types of damages are generally proven by receipts, documentation and quantifiable financial equations.
Drunk Driving Wrecks – Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are awarded with the intention of deterring the defendant from engaging in the bad behavior. It goes beyond what is necessary to compensate for injuries, adding extra compensation. Some experts characterize these damages as punishment based, used solely when the defendant’s behavior is found to be particularly harmful or egregious. North Carolina imposes no limit on punitive damages, so the award can be as much as the court deems appropriate. You may even collect compensation from the at-fault driver’s homeowners or umbrella policy. This allows for a damage amount that exceeds the limitations of the driver’s automobile insurance.
An injured party may also successfully seek damages from responsible third parties. North Carolina law allows victims to hold establishments such as bars, restaurants and liquor stores liable if they served alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person who later caused an automobile accident. This law even extends to social hosts. If applicable, the insurance companies of these parties can also provide compensation. An attorney is useful in this case because you must adequately present a timeline of events to prove liability.
These extra resources are particularly useful in situations where the at-fault driver is found to be without adequate insurance, which is often the case because of the high premiums charged to drunk drivers. It is also a common occurrence for these drivers to carry no liability insurance at all.
A civil action can be filed by a Charlotte NC car wreck attorney is separate from any criminal action against the at-fault driver. You should notify your insurance company of the accident, as well of the drunk driver. Evidence from the criminal case is likely useful in your civil matter, which creates a balancing act. While you do want to access information from the criminal case, you also must remain cognizant of the statute of limitations. In North Carolina, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit, so be sure to keep that in mind as you wait for an outcome in the criminal side of the case.