Earlier this month, a Shelbyville woman was arrested for her 17th DUI. No, that is not a typo– seventeen DUIs. According to reports, the habitual drunk driver was arrested yet again after she crossed the center-line and crashed head-on into another vehicle injuring the other driver.
Of course, given her driving record, this woman should not have been driving and, in fact, her license was suspended. But she was nonetheless out on the roadways again and almost certainly she was not insured. Tragically, this is not an isolated occurrence. Fifty to seventy-five percent of drunk drivers will continue to drive on a suspended license. If the drunk driver does not have any insurance, where does it leave the innocent victim injured by this woman’s criminal conduct?
Well, she could still file suit against the drunk driver, but as a general rule folks who have 17 DUIs have a problem. And, folks who have untreated addiction issues usually have a hard time holding down a job and often do not have many assets. So the chances of actually receiving any money from someone with that kind of track record are generally not good. To be sure, this is not always the case. On rare occasions, the uninsured drunk driver may have family money or substantial assets. But, it is rare.
Therefore, the injured driver’s best bet is to recover her losses from her own insurance company. And this is why it is so incredibly important to have substantial underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage (UIM/UM) as part of your auto policy. Typically, the coverage is not very expensive and it is often the only way you can be reimbursed for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc. caused by an accident with someone without insurance or without enough insurance. As such, it is well worth the additional cost.
While uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is often the easiest and best way to recoup your losses, there are some other possible sources of recovery. For instance, if the drunk driver had been drinking at a bar, restaurant, club or some other commercical establishment, then there might be a liquor liability claim. You can learn more about liquor liability/dram shop claims by clicking on this link.
Another option may be a negligent entrustment claim. Let’s assume the woman with the 17 DUIs did not own a vehicle. Instead, on the day of the accident, she borrowed a vehicle from a friend or family member. Let’s further assume the friend or family member knew of the 16 prior DUIs and the suspended license but still let her borrow the vehicle. Under such circumstances, an injury victim might be able to make a claim against the friend or family member who loaned the vehicle, or negligently entrusted it, to someone they knew had a horrendous driving record and a suspended license.
Unfortunately, drunk driving crashes claim a life every hour and injure hundreds of thousands of people every year. Incredibly, two in three drivers will be involved in a drunk driving accident in their lifetime. If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver or if someone you love has been killed by a drunk driver, one of our award-winning lawyers will be happy to review your case, answer your questions and explain your legal options in a free, no-obligation consultation. Just give us a call at 615-742-4880 (Nashville) or 615-867-9900 (Murfreesboro) or 866-812-8787 (anywhere else in the State of Tennessee or other states). We handle all drunk driving cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we win.