No. Drunk drivers are usually at fault, but not always. And insurance companies will use this to try to avoid paying victims where possible.
Below we’ll look at why this is possible from a legal perspective, what it looks like in a real accident, and your options as the victim.
Breaking a Law vs. Being at Fault
For many people, it’s hard to imagine a drunk driver who isn’t at fault for the accident they’re in. After all, drunk driving is illegal, it’s dangerous, and it’s the number one cause of death on Georgia’s roads. Anyone who is driving drunk is obviously being dangerous.
But legally, there’s a difference between breaking a law and being at fault. That difference comes down to whether one caused the other:
- Every drunk driver is breaking the law. They will usually be arrested after the accident and, in many cases, convicted.
- But is that what caused the accident? Drinking makes someone a terrible driver. It slows reaction time and leads to poor decision making. But it’s at least possible for someone to be driving drunk and get into an accident that even a sober person would have gotten into, under the same circumstances. And that calls into question whether they are truly at fault at all.
Here’s an example: Let’s say a man is driving drunk and he’s going 10 mph under the speed limit—a common indicator of drunk driving. A driver behind him gets frustrated and decides to pass him, even though there aren’t many gaps in oncoming traffic. The sober driver ends up having to swerve over before the pass is completed, clipping the drunk driver’s vehicle and running them both off the road.
In that example, you could argue that the accident would never have happened if the drunk driver wasn’t going to slow. But driving a little slow isn’t usually illegal. You could also argue that the drunk driver would have reacted to the swerve better if they weren’t drunk, which is probably true. But the sober driver was also being aggressive and unsafe. In a case like that, the insurance company may try to deny that the drunk driver was at fault at all.
A drunk driving accident attorney can help differentiate between breaking the law and being at fault for a crash. Having legal counsel will help protect your rights throughout the legal proceedings.
What should I do if a drunk driver is claiming they weren’t at fault?
In most cases it will be their insurance company, not the drunk driver themselves, that is claiming this. And you have options:
- You may be able to share fault. Even if the insurer claims you’re the one at fault, the drunk driver almost certainly didn’t react in the safest or best manner. They may also have contributed fault, so you could get at least part of your expenses paid.
- You may not truly be at fault at all. Insurance companies will argue this even when it’s shaky at best. Do not take them at their word.
- Always talk to a lawyer. A good drunk driving accident lawyercan help you prove fault and get the full amount you deserve.
Talk to an Atlanta Drunk Driving Lawyer for Free
Victims of drunk drivers should never risk dealing with the insurance companies alone. A lawyer makes a difference. Let us give you a FREE consultation and help you. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.