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. The Raleigh civil litigation attorneys of Maginnis Law will file a lawsuit on your behalf to prove that you did not act negligently. To speak with one of our lawyers, call 919.480.8526 or send a confidential email using our contact page.
The rule is that ordinarily a passenger is entitled to recover compensation if they are injured because of their driver’s negligent operation of his or her 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 contributory negligence rule which provides that a Plaintiff is not entitled to compensation if they were even 1% at fault for their injuries.
The easiest way to establish a passenger is entitled to personal injury compensation in a case involving a DWI is to establish that the passenger was not aware that the drunk driver was intoxicated. If this is the case, then 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 in a safe manner. 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.
Another avenue of 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.
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 fair personal injury compensation to which you are entitled. All of our automobile accident cases are handled on a contingency basis so that our clients pay no attorneys’ fees unless we make a recovery for their injuries.
For a free personal injury consultation with the Raleigh lawyers of Maginnis Law, contact the firm at 919.480.8526. We handle drunk driver cases all over the state of North Carolina, including Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Apex, Wake Forest, Fayetteville, Sanford, Rocky Mount, and the surrounding areas. If you would like to send a confidential email regarding your cases, use the form on our contact page.