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SJP Sifers Jensen Palmer Oct. 31, 2023

What to Do If You Are Hit by a Drunk Driver

At SJP Sifers Jensen Palmer, we understand how traumatic it can be when you're involved in a car accident. It's even more distressing when the other party is under the influence of alcohol. Driving under the influence is not just negligent; it's a criminal offense in Missouri. This means that if the other driver was drunk, it could significantly strengthen your case when establishing negligence in a civil lawsuit.  

We want you to be prepared and know what steps to take should you ever find yourself in this unfortunate situation. Contact us if you’re located in or around Kansas City or Springfield, Missouri, or anywhere throughout the Kansas City Metropolitan Area.  

Steps to Take if You Are Hit by a Drunk Driver 

If you're involved in an accident with a drunk driver, your safety should always come first. Move to a safe location, if possible, away from oncoming traffic. Check for any injuries to yourself or others involved in the accident. Don't hesitate to call for medical assistance if anyone needs immediate attention. 

Once everyone's safety has been attended to, it's time to contact the authorities. Reporting the accident to the police is crucial as it will provide an official record of the incident. This becomes particularly important when the other driver is intoxicated. 

Gathering evidence at the scene of the accident is another essential step. This includes taking photos of the damage to both vehicles, any skid marks on the road, and any visible injuries you or any passengers may have. Collect the drunk driver's contact and insurance information, and if there are any witnesses, try to get their contact information as well.  

Liability in Drunk Driving Accidents 

In Missouri, we operate under a fault system which means that the party at fault in an accident is responsible for compensating the injured party. With drunk driving accidents, however, there are additional legal considerations.  

Missouri Is a Fault State 

As a fault state, Missouri operates under the principle of holding the party responsible for the accident accountable for the damages caused. In cases where the other driver was found to be intoxicated at the time of the accident, this can serve as compelling evidence of their negligence and subsequent liability for the accident. Such circumstances not only highlight the potential dangers of driving under the influence but also emphasize the importance of personal responsibility and the need for justice to be served.  

Missouri Dram Shop Law 

Missouri's Dram Shop Law can also come into play in drunk driving cases. This law holds establishments liable for serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals who later cause accidents. If the drunk driver was overserved at a bar or restaurant, you may have a claim against that establishment as well. It is important to note that in order to have a valid claim under the Dram Shop Law, it must be proven that the establishment knew or should have known that the individual was visibly intoxicated at the time of serving. This law serves as a deterrent to prevent establishments from irresponsibly serving alcohol and promotes accountability for the consequences of drunk driving incidents. 

Punitive Damages  

In cases of drunk driving accidents, under Missouri law, punitive damages can be awarded in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages serve the purpose of not only punishing the at-fault party for their reckless behavior but also deterring others from engaging in similar conduct. By imposing these additional damages, the legal system aims to send a strong message that such actions will not be tolerated and to promote safer driving practices for the well-being of all road users. 

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim 

If you have tragically lost a loved one in a devastating drunk driving accident caused by the negligence of another, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim. This legal recourse aims to provide you with the opportunity to seek rightful compensation for the immense emotional and financial losses that have resulted from the untimely and heart-wrenching death of your cherished family member. It is an avenue that acknowledges the profound impact this tragedy has had on your life and seeks to bring a sense of justice and closure during this difficult time. 

Don’t Face This Challenge By Yourself 

We understand how distressing it can be to be involved in an accident with a drunk driver. But by following the steps we've outlined and understanding the legal aspects of drunk driving accidents in Missouri, you can protect your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve. Remember, we're here to guide you through the legal process and advocate for your best interests. Don't hesitate to reach out to us at SJP Sifers Jensen Palmer for assistance if you’re in or around Kansas City or Springfield, Missouri, or anywhere throughout the Kansas City Metropolitan Area.