The mere fact that someone was involved in an auto accident with a drunk driver in West Virginia does not necessarily mean that the drunk driver is liable for damages. The details surrounding how the accident happened can make a significant difference. Additionally, there may be other parties who are liable as well. By judicial precedent, victims of West Virginia auto accidents involving drunk drivers may file lawsuits against restaurant and bar owners and even bartenders in some cases when they have served patrons too much alcohol. Similar liability also applies to social hosts of private parties, and it particularly applies with underage drinkers who are involved in an accident after leaving.
Determining accident fault
Most auto accidents will generate a police investigation. The accident report will contain vital information for adjudicating injury and damage claims, and often states if alcohol was involved whether a driver is issued a DUI citation or not. If someone is cited for DUI and found to be at fault for a crash, there could be potential for punitive damages as well as compensatory damages for the harm.
Comparative negligence law in West Virginia
All states use a comparative negligence law of some type. West Virginia applies modified comparative negligence law which bars compensation for injuries when an injured driver is largely at fault. This means that an impaired driver may be exempt from liability when another driver primarily causes the collision.
While DUI evidence could serve as significant leverage in negotiating a maximum claim settlement, the actual assignment of comparative negligence percentages and ultimate liability is determined by a jury when a case goes to trial. Personal injury attorneys can use any public record of a citation in proving negligence against a DUI driver when a settlement cannot be reached beforehand.