Alcohol-Related Auto Accidents: The Offender May Not Be The Only Source Of Recovery

A Gulf Shores, Alabama man pled guilty to DUI Manslaughter earlier this week in a Florida Court in connection with a drunk driving collision in which one man was killed and another seriously injured. The at-fault driver faces up to 20 years in prison. (Montgomery Advertiser 1-25-11 – from the Associated Press). Assuming the at-fault driver was insured, the family of the deceased driver is likely to recover the limit of the available liability coverage. Many drivers only have liability insurance coverage for the minimum limit under Alabama law of $25,000. However, there may be other potential defendants and/or sources of recovery.

In a DUI crash, there may be claims under Alabama’s Dram Shop Statute (alcohol server liability) against the store, restaurant or other establishment who provided alcohol to the at-fault driver. The statute prohibits the sale of alcohol “contrary to law.” Generally, this occurs when alcohol is sold to an underage person or to someone (underage or not) who is visibly intoxicated. There may also be claims against a homeowner – host if the wreck occurs after an event where alcohol is served.

The injured person may also have a claim for uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) benefits under their own insurance policy. The insured is “legally entitled to recover” any damages sustained in excess of the at-fault driver’s liability coverage. This can include damages for medical bills, lost wages and, in the case of a drunk driving wreck, punitive damages. If the wreck results in a death, the only damages recoverable under the Alabama Wrongful Death Statute are punitive damages. If the at-fault driver’s liability policy excludes coverage for punitive damages, the only source of recovery for punitive damages may be the injured party’s UM/UIM coverage.

If you or someone you know has been involved in an auto accident, the Montgomery, Alabama car wreck attorneys at Allred & Allred, P.C. would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you.