Automobile accidents involving drunk drivers frequently occur at high speeds and cause life altering injuries. For occupants of vehicles struck by the negligent drunk driver, recovering personal injury compensation may not be so difficult. In most cases, they will not have to overcome North Carolina’s harsh contributory negligence rule. However, for passengers of the drunk driver, recovering compensation is an uphill battle against the contributory negligence rule. Most automobile insurance companies will not voluntarily pay compensation to a passenger of a drunk driver without litigation. Our personal injury experts will file a lawsuit on your behalf proving that you did not act negligently.
Generally, a passenger is entitled to compensation if they are injured because of their driver’s negligent operation of a vehicle. However, the passenger is barred from recovery when the driver causes an accident because of his or her intoxication, and the passenger was aware of such intoxication when he or she got into the vehicle. This is a result of North Carolina’s antiquated contributory negligence rule. The doctrine prevents a Plaintiff from recovering compensation if they were even 1% at fault for his or her injuries.
Legal Options for Passengers of a Drunk Driver
Passengers of a drunk driver can still fight for personal injury compensation. The easiest way for a passenger to recover compensation is to prove he or she did not know the driver was intoxicated. By default, the passenger likely did not act negligently in getting into the car with driver.
Another argument which may be made is that drunk driver’s intoxication was not the reason for the collision. A habitual drinker may blow over a .08 but still have the capacity to operate his or her car safely. If the alcohol did not contribute to the accident, then there is a good argument that the passenger was not contributorily negligent so as to bar their recovery.
Finally, a common way to approach recovery in a case of this sort is the last clear chance rule. This is an exception to the contributory negligence bar recognized by North Carolina law. The last clear chance rules provides that if the plaintiff puts himself in a place of helpless peril, the defendant knows that the plaintiff is in this position, and has the last clear chance to prevent injury but fails to do so, it will overcome the plaintiff’s contributory negligence.
Representation for Passengers Injured by a Drunk Driver
Drunk drivers are a danger to everyone, including their own passengers. If you are the victim of a negligent drunk driver, and were unaware of their intoxication, contact the Wake County personal injury attorneys of Maginnis Law. We can help you recover the compensation you deserve. We handle automobile accident cases on a contingency basis. This means our clients don’t pay any attorney’s fees unless we recover a settlement.
For a free personal injury consultation with the Raleigh lawyers of Maginnis Howard, contact the firm at (919) 526-0450. We handle drunk driver cases all over the state of North Carolina. If you would like to send a confidential email regarding your cases use the form on our contact page.