Driving under the influence is a serious offense. Each year, thousands of people are killed and injured in auto accidents involving alcohol and/or drugs. DUI’s are one reason why auto insurance premiums are so expensive in some areas, and drinking-and-driving accidents account for a large number of expensive claims. Fortunately for the victims of DUI accidents, car insurance will usually cover the cost of medical expenses; depending on the situation, the auto insurance company may pay for those of the drunk driver as well.

Medical Coverage and Auto Insurance

There are two primary types of medical coverage on an auto insurance policy: first-party coverage and liability insurance.

First-party coverage is called either personal injury protection or medical payments coverage, depending on the state where it’s offered. This type of coverage pays for injuries of the policyholder.

Liability insurance is required in all states and pays for injuries caused to another person whenever the insured driver is at fault.

Some states handle injuries differently than others. Most states are tort states, meaning that a driver can sue for injuries incurred in an auto accident. In these states, a driver’s liability insurance usually has a fairly high limit in order to protect him from lawsuits; the liability coverage would pay for the injuries so that he would not need to pay out of pocket for medical expenses incurred by an accident that he caused.

Other states are no-fault states. In a no-fault insurance state, each driver’s medical expenses are their own responsibility. In these areas, first-party insurance coverage is required to pay primarily for the insured’s injuries. The insured’s ability to sue is limited by state law. No-fault states require all drivers to purchase first-party injury coverage; this coverage is optional in tort states.

Whose Car Insurance Pays for Injuries?

If you are involved in an accident with a DUI driver, it’s usually a good idea to file the claim with both insurance companies. Alerting your insurance company to the situation is a good way to ensure that you have support throughout the claims process, and your insurer may even be able to help you pay for a lawyer if the case must go to court.

If you have first party medical coverage, that will go into effect to pay for the first part of your medical expenses. In a tort state, the limit will be lower than in a no-fault state. Once those limits are exhausted, the at-fault driver’s liability insurance is responsible for paying your medical expenses. If you’re in a no-fault state, your own insurance will continue to cover your injuries until the coverage has been exhausted.

The at-fault insurance company will usually contact you to extend a settlement. The settlement offer will include the cost of medical bills as well as pain and suffering and lost wages. Be aware that when you accept a settlement, you will not be eligible for further payments from the company, so it’s a good idea to make sure the figure they offer is high enough to pay for your needs.

In some situations, the at-fault party’s insurance may not cover the injuries. This may happen if the claim is denied or if the person does not have sufficient insurance to pay for the entire claim. In this situation, you may need to take the drunk driver to court to receive ample settlement to pay for your bills. You may also carry an underinsured motorist coverage on your policy that can help pay for some of your expenses if the at-fault driver’s liability insurance will not cover the entire accident.

Should I Get an Attorney?

An attorney is not always necessary for an auto accident, but attorney services can be extremely helpful in certain situations. If the injuries are severe or you will require extensive medical care as a result of your injuries, a lawyer can help make sure you get enough settlement for your needs. Additionally, if the at-fault person does not have sufficient insurance or if his company denies your claim, you’ll need an attorney to help file a lawsuit and present your case in court.

If you do choose to get an attorney, be aware that you will no longer be able to discuss the claim with your insurance company. The attorney must make all communication on your behalf and report back to you with claim-related information. You must also pay the attorney’s fee and depending on the amount of the settlement (if any), the fee may or not be worth it.

Driving under the influence is never a good idea no matter how you look at it. From the risk of injury to financial penalties and expenses, you are always much better drinking water when you go it!