Will insurance pay for a drunk driving accident?
If you were hit by a drunk driver, they have to pay for the damage that they caused, right? Medical costs, hospital expenses, pain and suffering, future medical care, maybe even punitive damages?
Unless the driver has assets to pay a verdict, it's their insurance company that will pay the bill after your case settles or after a jury decides your case - but will insurance pay for a drunk driving accident?
In most cases, insurance will pay a settlement or verdict after a drunk driving accident, at least up to the policy limits. What types of insurance pay for a drunk driving accident, what types of damage will they cover, and what are other possible sources of compensation?
Will Insurance Pay for a Drunk Driving Accident?
In most cases, insurance does pay for the damage caused by a drunk driving accident, including punitive damages if there is sufficient coverage.
Whether and how much insurance will pay after a drunk driving accident depends on whether the drunk driver has auto insurance, how much coverage they have, how much underinsured and uninsured coverage your insurance policy has, and whether there are any third parties who are liable for the accident like other drivers, bars, or restaurants.
What Does Insurance Cover After a Drunk Driving Accident?
Assuming the drunk driver has liability insurance and the drunk driver was at fault for the accident, their insurance will pay for any settlement or verdict up to their policy limits, including:
- Medical costs;
- Hospital expenses;
- Medical equipment;
- Future medical costs;
- Long-term care;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Punitive damages.
If they only have the minimum coverage, however, you may need to find alternate sources of recovery...
What Types of Insurance Pay for a Drunk Driving Accident?
There are several types of insurance policies that may provide coverage after a drunk driving accident, including the drunk driver's liability and comprehensive insurance coverage, third-party insurance policies when other individuals or companies are liable for the accident, and your own uninsured, underinsured, or umbrella policies.
One type of auto insurance required by law in SC is liability insurance. This is the policy that pays for your damages when the insured - the drunk driver - hits you.
In most cases, if the drunk driver only has the minimum insurance required by law in SC, it will not be enough to compensate you for the damage caused by a drunk driving accident.
If this happens, we need to look for alternate sources of recovery - there may be other potential defendants who are liable for the accident like a restaurant or bar, there may be other insurance policies that are on the hook, or the defendant may have assets that you can take after a settlement or verdict...
Will insurance pay for the drunk driver's own hospital bills and property damage?
If they only have liability insurance, their policy will pay for your damages up to the policy limit, but their insurance will not pay for the drunk driver's expenses. If the drunk driver has comprehensive insurance, then their policy might pay for their own property damage, depending on the language of their insurance policy.
Third Party Liability
If the drunk driver's policy limits do not cover your expenses, all may not be lost. In many drunk driving cases, there may be an individual or company other than the drunk driver who shares some responsibility for the accident.
If another vehicle was involved in the accident, that driver could also be liable, and their insurance company may also be on the hook to pay your damages.
If a dangerous condition in the roadway or a parking lot contributed to the accident, another individual, company, or municipality could share liability for the accident.
If the drunk driver was served alcohol at a bar or restaurant after they were visibly intoxicated, that establishment may also be on the hook for what is called dram shop liability. Dram shop liability can be proven by witness testimony, video recordings, receipts, or the drunk driver's own testimony.
Stacking of Insurance Policies
In SC, you can stack insurance coverage - you are not limited to making an insurance claim against only one policy.
If the drunk driver's policy does not cover the full amount of your damages, in addition to the insurance policies of third-party defendants like the bar or restaurant, you can also make a claim against your own insurance policy or an umbrella policy if one exists.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
You are required by law to have uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage, which will pay for your damages if the drunk driver does not have insurance, if they do not have the minimum policy limits that are required by SC law, if you were hurt in a hit and run accident, or if the drunk driver's insurance company refuses to pay your claim.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
If you purchased underinsured motorist (UM) coverage, your own insurance policy will pay for the difference between your total settlement or verdict and the drunk driver's policy limits.
Other Sources of Compensation after a Drunk Driving Accident in SC
Your SC drunk driving accident attorney on the Axelrod team will investigate all potential sources of recovery to ensure that you are fully compensated whenever possible - other possible defendants, possible insurance coverage, and, when appropriate, assistance from the attorney general's SC victim's assistance fund.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a SC car crash with a drunk driver, we will help you recover full and fair compensation from every source of recovery that is available.