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3 possible sources of compensation after a drunk driving crash

On Behalf of | Dec 27, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Drunk driving is a leading cause of collisions in South Dakota. People who have had too much to drink make bad decisions while at the wheel. They also sometimes fall asleep while driving or have drastically increased reaction times that lead to preventable collisions.

After a wreck caused by a drunk driver, the other people involved in the crash may have questions about their rights. Quite often, state prosecutors bring criminal charges against someone who decides to drive while under the influence. Criminal charges can be a form of justice, but they don’t do much to reduce the negative impact the drunk driver has had on others. What types of compensation are available to those affected by a drunk driver in South Dakota?

Insurance coverage

Every driver in South Dakota typically needs to pay for liability insurance. Their policy can reimburse other people for property damage losses and injury-related expenses after a collision. Of course, insurance claims are subject to rules about coverage, including the policy limits set by the driver at fault for the crash. It is unfortunately relatively common for people to only carry the insurance that the state requires, which may not do enough to cover crash costs, especially if there are major medical expenses or lost wages.

A lawsuit against an at-fault driver

Litigation can be a way for people to seek justice after drunk driving collisions in South Dakota. Regardless of whether the state prosecuted the drunk driver, the other people involved in the crash may have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit against the impaired motorist. Unlike insurance, which has strict limits for what people can recover, lawsuits can potentially lead to full reimbursement for all economic losses triggered by a drunk driving collision.

A lawsuit against a business

Unfortunately, South Dakota does not have a dram shop liability law. In other states, it is sometimes possible to take legal action against bars or restaurants that provide alcohol to underage patrons or someone already quite visibly intoxicated. While people cannot file dram shop lawsuits in South Dakota, there could be a different business with liability for the incident.

Vicarious liability rules make a business responsible for the negligence and misconduct of workers who are on the clock. For example, if an employee drives while drunk on the job, especially if they are in a vehicle owned by the business, people harmed by that drunk driver could take legal action against the employer. Companies tend to have more assets than individuals, which makes a lawsuit against a business a better option in some cases than taking legal action against the drunk driver directly.

Ultimately, seeking legal guidance and exploring every option for financial compensation may benefit those injured in a crash caused by a drunk driver in South Dakota.