A drunk driving death is one of the worst tragedies that can happen to a family, especially since these accidents are entirely preventable. Motorists have a responsibility to others while on the road, and choosing to operate a vehicle while under the influence is an abdication of this responsibility. When an impaired motorist hurts or kills someone, they must be held accountable for their actions. A personal injury lawyer can provide the victim’s family with much-needed representation and help a family begin to recover financially.


Although the situation has improved in recent years, the U.S. still has a major issue with impaired motorists. According to the CDC’s self-report surveys, just a little over 1 percent of impaired drivers are caught and arrested. In other words, many people are repeat offenders, regularly behind the wheel of a car while under the influence. These reckless motorists don’t regard the safety of others as important enough and should be made responsible for their negligence.

For the victim’s family, closure will never completely occur. Though the emotional toll of losing a loved one is the most overwhelming, the financial impact can be devastating as well. A wrongful death claim can help cover vital expenses, such as medical and funeral costs, as well as compensation for emotional suffering, loss of future earnings, loss of companionship and loss of care. In general, courts take emotional losses very seriously and will often compensate the victim’s family for it. If the court deems fit, it may call for punitive damages as well. Punitive damages are typically called for when a motorist’s conduct was unusually reckless. It is also used as a deterrent against future infractions.

The motorist may not be the only defendant the attorney names in the case. Establishments that sell alcohol are required by law to refuse to serve people who are obviously intoxicated. If an establishment ignores this and serves the person who later causes a drunk driving death, it may also share liability. Also, it is against the law to lend a vehicle to a person who is either intoxicated or will likely become so. A vehicle owner may be named in the case as well if they allow a negligent motorist to operate their vehicle.


It’s normally easy to demonstrate liability in these cases, as long as the motorist does not attempt to flee the site of the accident. Responding police will file an accident report, and this report will indicate whether or not the motorist was impaired. It’s nearly impossible for a motorist to avoid liability at this point, though they may attempt to shift the blame to others. A personal injury attorney will be able to account for this and name anyone that likely shares blame in the suit.

Once the suit is filed, the attorney will work with expert witnesses, usually economists and actuaries, to determine what the claim will be worth. This will take into account all current expenses and the future costs of losing a loved one. This will ensure that the family is taken care of financially following the tragedy.