One would think that by now, people would know better than to drink and drive on Montana’s roads.
Police and prosecutors take Montana’s drunk driving laws seriously, and there is plenty of information out there about the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Unfortunately, people do still drive while intoxicated. When they do, innocent victims suffer because of the motor vehicle accidents these intoxicated drivers cause.
Of course, people who do kill or seriously injure others because they drove under the influence will face severe criminal penalties.
However, the criminal justice system is not designed to fully compensate victims but to punish criminals.
To receive full compensation, a victim’s family must file a wrongful death case. As part of that case, they can ask for lost income, medical bills, funeral expenses and other costs.
They may also ask for non-economic losses to compensate for their emotional distress. It depends on the facts of the case, but a Missoula family may also ask for punitive damages after losing a loved one to a drunk or drugged driver. As the name implies, punitive damages are supposed to call out a drunk driver’s dangerous behavior so others avoid it.
If a drunk driver cannot pay compensation, other options may be available
Unfortunately, many times drunk drivers have no way of paying compensation for the trauma they inflict on victims and their families. In other words, even though the drunk driver is legally responsible, victims will not see any money from them.
Families in these situations should not give up hope. For one, their own automobile insurance companies may cover them in these sorts of situations. They should speak with an attorney or, possibly, their insurance agent about this possibility.
Also, other people and businesses may be responsible to pay compensation. For example, a bar or restaurant that served an intoxicated driver may be legally liable to pay compensation if that driver causes an accident. Whether the business is liable will depend a lot on the facts and circumstances.