How do I sue the drunk driver who hit me and killed my passenger? 50 Answers as of July 08, 2013

I was hit by a drunk driver and his father is the owner of the vehicle. Who do I sue and for what do I sue them for? My car was totaled, I incurred many injuries (some almost life threatening), and the passenger in my car passed. Please assist as I am not sure how to handle this matter.

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C Meryl Murphy, Attorney-at-Law, LLC
C Meryl Murphy, Attorney-at-Law, LLC | Candace M Murphy
You should consult with an attorney immediately to determine your best course of action. Through your consultation, the attorney can gather information and determine the proper parties to sue, your chances of success, and determining your damages. Don't delay in meeting with an attorney and good luck to you.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 10/13/2011
David Hoines Law
David Hoines Law | David Hoines
Does the drunk driver have insurance?
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 7/8/2013
Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC
Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
You will sue both the drunk driver in his individual capacity, and you will sue the owner of the car for negligently trusting the driver with his car. I am very, very sorry to hear about your friend.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 10/10/2011
Langer & Langer
Langer & Langer | Jon Schmoll
You have a claim against the drunk driver and perhaps his father depending on the father's knowledge of his son's drinking. You also have a claim against your own insurance company for uninsured motorist coverage if there is no insurance on the drunk driver. You may have al claim against your own insurance company for underinsured motorist coverage if the drunk driver's liability coverage is less than your underinsured coverage. Both you and your passenger need legal counsel to protect your rights.
Answer Applies to: Indiana
Replied: 10/10/2011
Lombardi Law Firm
Lombardi Law Firm | Steve Lombardi
Answer: You sue someone by hiring a lawyer. But in this instance Im not sure you have a case. Your passengers estate, the passengers spouse, passengers children or parents would have a case, but no driver has a case for an unrelated person who dies because of a drunk driver. You do have a claim under Iowas dram shop or civil drunk driving cases. We recently settled one for $150,000. These are tough cases, but we like difficult and have had good success.
Answer Applies to: Iowa
Replied: 10/10/2011
    Law Offices of Steven A. Fink
    Law Offices of Steven A. Fink | Steven Alan Fink
    You can sue both the driver and the owner. You need to retain a personal injury attorney who will handle all of the details for you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator | Bernard Huff
    If the drunk driver carried automobile/collision insurance at the time of the accident, file a claim with his insurance carrier. Also, you should consult with a plaintiff's personal injury attorney for legal advice and assistance regarding this major accident.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Dwyer, Black & Lyle, LLP
    Dwyer, Black & Lyle, LLP | Kevin Habberfield
    Sorry to hear of your crash. You need an attorney. This is not something you can do on your own. Go see a personal injury attorney in your area right away. This is simply too complicated for a layperson to handle.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Greg Peterson, Attorney at Law
    Greg Peterson, Attorney at Law | Greg Peterson
    You have been hit by a drunk driver. You need an attorney immediately! Clearly the driver bears responsibility for his actions. Under Iowa law, that liability is also imputed to the owner of the vehicle as long as the vehicle was operated with the knowledge and consent of the owner. Your uninsured or underinsured coverage may come into play. Possibly there are even other avenues of recovery - like the driver was working for an employer at the time of the accident. While the claim proceeds you will have to submit your bills to your health carrier. You probably have a small amount of med pay coverage under your own auto policy which can be applied as well. Your situation is complex, much needs to be done and you need to hit the ground running on this one.
    Answer Applies to: Iowa
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Law Office of James L. Miller
    Law Office of James L. Miller | James Miller
    You sue the driver and the owner of the vehicle however this is not something that you should be dong on your own. Cases such as these require an attorney to assist you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Coulter's Law
    Coulter's Law | Coulter K. Richardson
    You sue both. The driver is obviously at fault. However, the driver's father, may or may not have been aware of his son's tendencies with regards to alcohol. It also depends on whether you selected the right to sue option in your insurance policy. Your passenger's estate can of course sue on his behalf.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    R. D. Kelly Law Firm, P.L.L.C.
    R. D. Kelly Law Firm, P.L.L.C. | Robert Kelly
    You should retain a personal injury attorney immediately. Normally, you look to the applicable insurance company for payment. If necessary, suing the drunk driver is a possibility. Sometimes the owner of the car is also responsible. The cause of action is for the torts of negligence and negligence per se. RCW 5.40.050 http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=5.40.050. Sometimes it can also be possible to sue the person or bar where the drunk driver got the alcohol.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A.
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
    You can sue both the drunk driver and the owner of the car. You can get punitive damages against the drunk driver, and the owner of the car, too, if you can prove the owner knew of the driver's propensities to drive while intoxicated.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Craig Kelley & Faultless
    Craig Kelley & Faultless | David W. Craig
    You should immediately hire an injury attorney. It is important that someone is looking out for our interest. The insurance company for the drunk driver will be looking for ways to protect it's insured. They will be investigating the wreck. Someone needs to be protecting your rights. If you hire an injury attorney they will not make you pay anything until they get a recovery for you. There are key dead-lines in Indiana you need to be aware of and comply with. Your best bet is to set up a free consultation with someone who has handles these type cases.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Law Offices of Richard Copeland, LLC
    Law Offices of Richard Copeland, LLC | Richard Copeland
    Your primary claim is against the drunk driver himself. The father could be liable for negligent entrustment if he let the son drive the vehicle when he had reason to know that the son wasn't a safe driver or capable of driving at the time. You have three years in Colorado to bring your claim, but I would find an attorney now. It would also make sense for your passenger's survivors to hire an attorney, and there is no reason from the facts you've set out so far why the same attorney couldn't represent both you and your passenger's survivors.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    AyerHoffman, LLP
    AyerHoffman, LLP | David C. Ayer
    You may sue the driver and possibly the owner. Most likely you will be litigating against an insurance company. Matters like these are unlikely to go to trial. If the other driver was drunk, and particularly if charged with OUI, and if there is no question that you are not partly at fault, this matter should settle out of court. The family of your passenger can bring suit for wrongful death.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A.
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A. | Joel Ewusiak
    Based upon your narrative, you, your passenger, and possibly, your spouses, would file a lawsuit for negligence against the driver and owner of the vehicle. Your ability to recover will be dictated, in large part, by the extent of the available insurance coverage (you'll want to examine the policies of all persons involved). Consult with a Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/16/2012
    Parks Law Group
    Parks Law Group | Melinda J. Parks
    Have you contacted an attorney? If the other driver was at fault, you could possibly have a claim against him and/or his father for your medical bills, lost wages(if any) and/or pain and suffering damages. Do you know if the driver was insured?
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 7/8/2013
    THE LAMPEL FIRM
    THE LAMPEL FIRM | ERIC LAMPEL
    Immediately hire a good experienced personal injury lawyer. Both the drunk and the owner of the car could be liable, personally and with their insurance. Your insurance also could be a source of coverage in the event they are uninsured or under-insured. We are here to help you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo | Mark Leonardo
    Sorry to hear about the loss of the passenger in your car. This is obviously a serious matter. You need to retain an attorney as this is not the type of case to handle yourself. Hopefully the other car was adequately insured and you were insured too. So long as you had insurance, you can make a claim for your personal injuries. If your insurance company already took care of your car, your insurer will pursue the other driver and/or his insurance company for reimbursement. The lawyer you hire will pursue a claim as well. You can sue both the driver and the owner, but the owners liability is extremely limited. If the other driver was not insured or was underinsured, your policy will kick-in to the extent there is a difference (i.e., if he had a $15,000 policy and yours is $50,000, your carrier will pay up to the difference of $35,000).
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The very first thing you do is retain counsel. Competent counsel will act as an interface and provide a means for you to have the issues properly handled. Potential defendants are the car owner as well as the driver. Need more facts to determine if you could collect for the death of the passenger.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm | Thomas Bulman
    You and the relatives of your passenger should sue the drunk driver.
    Answer Applies to: Montana
    Replied: 7/8/2013
    Harris Law Firm
    Harris Law Firm | Paul Vames
    Your claims and your passenger's claims are slightly different. Regarding your claims, you will need to initiate a lawsuit for your past and future damages attributable to the motor vehicle collision (medical expenses, loss of earnings, out-of-pocket expenses, trauma, inconvenience, pain, disability, and loss of quality of life). You may also potentially have a claim against the drunk driver for punitive/exemplary damages. The defendants in the lawsuit will include the drunk diver and potentially anyone who may have negligently entrusted the vehicle to the drunk driver (possibly the drunk driver's father). Because your deceased passenger cannot maintain his or her own lawsuit, the wrongful death suit will be handled through a personal representative for his or her estate. Wrongful death statutes vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. You will want to counsel the relatives of your deceased passenger to contact me or another attorney with experience handling wrongful death cases. Our law office handles both catastrophic injury cases and wrongful death cases and we provide an initial consultation at no charge and with no obligation. Both your claim and your deceased passenger's claim involve time-sensitive and complex legal issues. Whether you hire our firm or another qualified law firm, it is important that you be well-advised of your legal rights and duties. My recommendation is that you contact our office or another qualified law firm as early as possible.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Wilson & Hajek,LLC, a personal injury law firm
    Wilson & Hajek,LLC, a personal injury law firm | Francis Hajek
    In a serious drunk driving car accident, you should contact an experienced lawyer to guide you through the process. There are 2 claims, one for you and one for your passenger. The passenger's executor need to pursue the wrongful death claim. You have a personal injury claim and a recovery will depend a lot on available insurance coverage and what assets the defendant has.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law | Gary Moore
    When in doubt sue everyone who might be liable. The estate of the passenger who died has a potential wrongful death case. There also the question of where the driving had been drinking. If at a bar, sue the bar. If at a party, sue the homeowner.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C.
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C. | Andrew Velonis
    That's what lawyers are for. Find a lawyer in your area who is experienced in these matters. He or she will handle it on a "contingency fee" basis, meaning that there are no up-front costs to you and if there is no recovery, you pay nothing. You can call several of them, and find out who you are most comfortable with.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 7/8/2013
    Beaver Holt Sternlicht and Courie, P.A.
    Beaver Holt Sternlicht and Courie, P.A. | Mark A. Sternlicht
    You should consult an attorney who is experienced in handling cases involving motor vehicle collisions. You probably have claims against the driver and his father, and, depending on the facts, it is also possible that you may have a claim against a person or establishment that served alcohol to the driver.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Chalat Hatten Koupal & Banker PC
    Chalat Hatten Koupal & Banker PC | Linda Chalat
    You will have a claim against the driver of the vehicle and perhaps the owner of the vehicle depending on the age of the drunk driver and his relationship to the owner. This is a serious accident and your best interests would be served by contacting an experienced car accident attorney. The insurance company providing coverage for the father's vehicle will probably contact you for a statement - do not speak to the insurance representative until you have spoken with a personal injury attorney. In many cases, a quick settlement is offered by the offending driver's insurance for significantly less than your claim is worth, even after paying attorneys fees you will most likely be much better off with an attorney. And most personal injury attorneys will provide you a free initial consultation and will handle the case on a contingency fee basis, you only pay attorneys fees if the lawyer successfully collects on your behalf. When choosing a law firm, look for one that provides personal attention to your case by an attorney - not a large "stack them deep, and settle them cheap" firm where a paralegal will do the work. Keep in mind that you have three years in Colorado in which to file a claim arising from a motor vehicle accident.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    The Law Office of Stephen R. Chesley, LLC
    The Law Office of Stephen R. Chesley, LLC | Stephen R. Chesley
    You should definitely talk to an attorney as soon as possible as well as the estate of the deceased passenger. If the driver was drunk, and was the cause of the accident you definitely have a claim against the driver. An action can also be brought against the responsible parties for the estate of the deceased passenger. Hopefully there is adequate insurance on the part of the drunk driver. A claim would be made against the driver and the owner of the vehicle.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Mishkind Law Firm, Co., L.P.A.
    Mishkind Law Firm, Co., L.P.A. | Howard Mishkind
    The driver of the vehicle is the person that you would sue. If the father knew that his son was intoxicated and allowed him to operate the car he may be liable as well for negligent entrustment. I have represented individuals that have been seriously injured in auto collisions due to intoxication. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to recover punitive damages to punish the driver and compensatory damages for your personal injuries. It will be important to talk to an attorney promptly as there can be issues of insurance coverage depending on the language of the policy. The family of the passenger in your car has a claim as well and that claim would need to be pursued by his or her family. An estate through probate court will need to be opened on behalf of the estate of your passenger.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    The S.E. Farris Law Firm
    The S.E. Farris Law Firm | Spencer E. Farris
    That is a terrible situation. Few non lawyers can resolve a case like this properly, and most law firms will do so for a reduced attorney fee.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 7/8/2013
    Wooten, Kimbrough & Normand, P.A.
    Wooten, Kimbrough & Normand, P.A. | Orman Kimbrough, Esq.
    In Florida, normally an owner as well as the driver may be responsible for the damages and injuries caused by the driver. You may pursue your claim against both the driver and owner. Also, you would want to know where the drunk driver obtained the alcohol and under what circumstances. You should notify your insurance company of the wreck immediately if you have not done so already. Florida has specific laws regarding the death of people and the claim would be brought by the personal representative on behalf of the relatives of the passenger whose rights are listed in the Wrongful Death laws. To protect your rights, you should consult with a Personal Injury lawyer as soon as possible.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Link & Smith, P.C.
    Link & Smith, P.C. | Houston Smith
    You describe a very serious situation and you are wise to consider representation. Cases which involve drunk drivers by their very nature also then involve punitive damage issues as well as the standard compensatory issues.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/8/2013
    Magnuson Lowell P.S.
    Magnuson Lowell P.S. | Richard S. Lowell
    These are very complicated matters to handle - from a "who do I sue" standpoint - to a "what am I entitled to" standpoint, and more. The fact that you are seeking out the advice of an attorney is telling and smart! You do need a qualified personal injury attorney - such as myself - to assist you in this claim. The short answer to your direct question is: at the very least, you would end up making a claim (suing) the drunk driver. You may also sue the father/owner - but more information would need to be uncovered to determine whether the father is also liable. There may be others also responsible. For example, if the driver had been drinking at a bar - and was apparently intoxicated - the bar can be liable, too. And if you had underinsured motorist coverage on your own car - your own insurance company can be liable, too. Many of the medical expenses for you should be covered by your own PIP insurance coverage on your car. That coverage would likely also pay for your passenger's medical expenses (if any) and funeral expenses. Eventually, you would be suing for your past and future medical expenses, past and future wage loss (if any), disability, past and future pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life - and more. A claim by your passenger's estate is also available - but much more complicated - depending on many factors such as whether your passenger survived a short while before passing, the age of your passenger, the employment status (or anticipated status and/or education) of your passenger, and the status of the surviving family members.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Raheen Law Group, P.C.
    Raheen Law Group, P.C. | Wali Raheen
    First and foremost, make sure you seek medical treatment. Regarding legal issues, you would sue the person who wronged you. There are many factors that need to be considered in order to properly evaluate this case. You should not give any statement or sign any document for the insurance company. I strongly urge you to contact an attorney to ensure you get what you deserve.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Premier Law Group
    Premier Law Group | Jason Epstein
    There is no question that you need to speak to an experienced personal injury and auto accident lawyer immediately. There are many ways that you can negatively impact your claim by not having proper representation early on.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Cevallos & Wong LLP
    Cevallos & Wong LLP | Jeffrey Wong
    Any personal injury case has three parts: (1) Liability; (2) Damages and (3) Coverage. First, liability. You need to demonstrate that your injuries and losses were caused by the fault of someone else. I would need to know more about what the drunk driver did in your case to respond in your particular case. Second, damages. Your post indicates you were severely injured and you would like to know what you could make a claim for. Under the law of Pennsylvania, you can make a claim for economic damages (i.e. medical bills, lost wages) and non-economic damages (for physical injuries to your body). The extent of those damages depends on what you have lost. Third, coverage, there are many aspects to consider on this issue and they all start with understanding the available insurance in your claim. Your rights regarding compensation are established not only by the insurance held by the other driver (or his father) but also the insurance in your own household. Understanding the priority of applicable insurance is an essential component of a successful claim. I would suggest you contact an attorney to begin analyzing whether you have a case. You should also be aware that there are strict time limits under the law that require you to act promptly if you choose to make a claim.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Fears & Nachawati
    Fears & Nachawati | Majed Nachawati
    Based on the limited facts below, you should retain a personal injury lawyer to represent you on a contingency, meaning there are no costs to you until and unless there is a monetary recovery. The lawyer will then make a determination based on all the facts concerning the appropriate parties to sue, which could include the drunk driver, the owner of the vehicle, and possibly any bars the intoxicated person was drinking at prior to the collision in question.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    The Kelly Law Firm, P.C.
    The Kelly Law Firm, P.C. | L. Todd Kelly
    There are a number of things that need to be done to protect your rights.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 7/8/2013
    Law Offices of Elliott Zarabi
    Law Offices of Elliott Zarabi | Elliott Zarabi
    You sue everyone, You won't be able to sue for the passenger unless there is a special relationship... But, you sue the owner of the vehicle, the driver, sometimes even the bar is they continued service, you really sue everyone!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Law Office of Dean B. Gordon
    Law Office of Dean B. Gordon | Dean B. Gordon
    You should contact an experienced plaintiffs' personal injury attorney immediately in order to preserve your rights. You should make sure that the attorney is a member of a recognized trial lawyers group such as Consumer Attorneys of California (formerly California Trial Lawyers Association.)
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Patrick M Lamar Attorney
    Patrick M Lamar Attorney | Patrick M Lamar
    You can sue both parties, the son and the father. The latter on a theory of negligent entrustment.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 10/28/2011
    Braswell Murphy, LLC
    Braswell Murphy, LLC | Brian Murphy
    You should retain a lawyer to file a lawsuit against the drunk driver to recover for your injuries and damage to your car. If his father owned the vehicle and had insurance, his policy should provide coverage for your damages. If your damages exceed the amount of coverage the drunk driver's dad had on the vehicle, you may be able to recover under your insurance policy's underinsured motorist coverage. As to your passenger, his/her family would have a wrongful death claim against the drunk driver and probably his dad too.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O.
    The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O. | Eric R. Chandler
    There are actually two claims: (1) your personal injury claim and (2) your passenger's wrongful death claim. Unless you are related, the passenger's claim is not your claim to pursue. Someone else would have to pursue the wrongful death claim on his/her behalf, such as a surviving wife or child. You should contact a car accident injury lawyer in your area sooner vs. later.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    You have a major personal injury claim and your passenger has a major wrongful death claim. You will need the assistance of a skilled attorney, who will maximize your financial recovery from all who are responsible after this life-changing incident. The driver and owner of the vehicle that hit you are liable for damages. There are or may be others who are also responsible for your injuries. While you recovery physically and emotionally, you should have an attorney protect your legal rights and ease your stress while you are recovering from your injuries.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/7/2011
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
    If the drunk driver was at fault in causing the collision you have a case against the driver and the father (assuming he authorized or permitted the son to use the car as he likely did). There is a claim for wrongful death of your passenger which must be brought by his personal representative appointed by the court for such purpose. Any funds from the death case would go to his heirs. You really need a good personal injury lawyer to help you. You cannot do this alone very well. Don't talk to anyone now except your doctor and your lawyer and make sure you get the very best medical care available and make sure you do what the doctor orders.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 10/7/2011
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