Are Drunk Drivers Always at Fault in an Accident?

the fault of drunk drivers

What you’ll learn reading this article:

  • Drunk drivers aren’t automatically at fault for auto accidents.
  • Many cases involve some level of shared responsibility.
  • These are challenging cases and you’ll need an Indiana DUI lawyer to help you understand your options.

Drunk driving is a crime that puts everyone on Hoosier roads at risk. So you might assume that if someone drives drunk, they’re 100% responsible for all harm that arises from an auto accident.

But that’s not always the case. We’d like to explain some scenarios where Indiana drunk drivers may have only partial responsibility or may not have legal liability at all.

Factors in Finding Fault

The central issue in Indiana auto accidents is establishing fault. Whoever is at fault can be held responsible for compensating others for their damages through a civil lawsuit or insurance claim.

Strange as it may seem, a drunk driver isn’t automatically at fault for an auto accident, and proving someone was drunk doesn’t guarantee you’ll win a lawsuit. Their drunkenness may or may not have been the main factor in the crash.

To understand why this is true, imagine an accident where a drunk driver is stopped at a red light and the driver of the car behind them is too distracted to notice the line of stopped traffic. The distracted driver rear-ends the drunk driver, bringing the police to the scene.

In this situation, the distracted driver – not the drunk driver – caused the accident. Although the drunk driver might be arrested by the police for drunk driving, it’s unlikely they could be held responsible for the accident.

Sometimes Someone Else Shares Responsibility

Even if a drunk driver has some of the blame, they might not have all the blame. Perhaps their drunkenness contributed to the accident but another driver also did something to contribute to it, like ignore a stop sign or try to pass in a no-passing zone.

It’s even possible that someone who wasn’t directly involved in the auto accident holds some amount of responsibility. Indiana has Dram Shop Laws that allow injured people to hold a bar or other establishment responsible for a drunk driving accident.

Providers of alcohol are expected to prevent visibly drunk people from purchasing or being served additional alcohol. So if a drunk driver kills a pedestrian after being overserved at a bar, the family of the pedestrian may have a wrongful death case against the bar.

The Dram Shop rule also applies to informal gatherings and social hosts, meaning an injured person may have a claim against a homeowner who overserved a guest at a house party or a business that overserved an employee at the company picnic. It all depends on the circumstances involved, so seek a consultation with an Indiana lawyer who has plenty of experience handling complex cases like these.

At Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery, we help our clients after DUI accidents and other auto accidents. We can help you understand who may be at fault and how to hold the right people responsible.

Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery – Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been injured physically or mentally by a person, product, or company, you need to know your legal rights. Our personal injury attorneys are experienced with cases like yours and can evaluate what your case may be worth. We will ensure that you are protected and compensated for your injuries and losses. Why pay up to 40% in attorney fees? Our fee is only 25%* and we fight to win your case or you pay no attorney fees at all. Don’t hesitate – one of our experienced attorneys can assist you right away. Call 1-800-265-9881 for a free case review.