Understanding Your Rights: Legal Options for Victims of Drunk Drivers in Delaware

victims of drunk drivers

In the state of Delaware, over 7,000 crashes a year are the result of drunk driving. In the year 2000, over 2,500 people were injured and 60 were killed. Drunk-Driving.com reports that for every 120 miles driven in Delaware, someone with an illegal blood-alcohol level was behind the wheel.

If you have been injured by a drunk driver, you have certain legal rights to claim compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial damage you have suffered as a result. Each person must exercise these rights, not only for their own sake but also to hold drunk drivers accountable for their life-threatening actions.

The Impact of Drunk Driving

What types of damage are caused by drunk driving accidents? There are millions of stories out there detailing the horror of drunk driving injuries, fatalities, and the swath of destruction left in their wake.

From a legal standpoint, the impact of drunk driving is calculated in three ways: physical, emotional, and financial.

  • Physical damage: short-term and long-lasting injuries, many of which can change a person’s life forever.
  • Emotional trauma: The fear and traumatic experience of being hit by a driver who is out of control.
  • Financial damage: The cost of medical care, property damage, and the monetary value of other losses caused by the accident.

Legal Framework in Delaware

In Delaware, driving under the influence of alcohol (or other intoxicants) is a criminal offense. Whether or not harm is done, drivers will face certain consequences intended to discourage them from driving drunk and stop them from getting behind the wheel again.

  • 1st DUI:
    • $550 – $1,500 fine
    • Up to 12 months in jail
    • License revoked for 12-24 months
  • 2nd DUI:
    • $750 – $2,500 fine
    • Mandatory imprisonment of 60 days to 18 months
    • License revoked for 18-30 months

Victims’ Rights and Legal Remedies

If you have been injured by a drunk driver, you have certain victim’s rights, including the right to file a civil lawsuit against the drunk driver. The result is to seek financial compensation for the pain, suffering, and loss caused by the accident.

Civil vs. Criminal Proceedings

A drunk driver convicted in a criminal proceeding will be easier to sue for damages in civil court. However, even if the charges were dismissed in criminal court, you can still file suit and may be able to claim damages through the civil court requirements of proof and the settlement process.

Compensation for Victims

Compensation is always in the form of a paid settlement. While money cannot remove trauma, mend injuries, or bring back lost loved ones, it can provide the resources you need to cover medical expenses and build something for yourself after this traumatic experience.

There are several types of damages you can claim in a drunk driving lawsuit:

  • Economic damages
    • Medical bills
    • Property damage repair costs
    • Lost wages from missed work
    • Future lost income
  • Non-economic damages
    • Pain and suffering
    • Injuries
    • Disability and disfigurement
    • Loss of limb
    • Emotional distress and mental anguish
    • Loss of enjoyment of life
    • loss of consortium (fatality)
  • Punitive damages
    • Additional financial penalties for the driver’s unusually harmful, reckless, or malicious behavior.

The Role of Insurance

When you sue a drunk driver for damages, they may be able to call upon their insurance to pay the settlement. If so, you will need to defend yourself from the insurance institution’s claim-minimizing and blame-spreading tactics. However, insurance also tends to have deeper resources from which to pay settlements.

Navigating the Legal Process

After you have been harmed by a drunk driver, there are a few important steps to take for your health, safety, and the legal foundation of your civil lawsuit claim.

Steps To Take After an Accident

  1. Seek immediate medical care for your injuries.
    1. Ask your doctor for full documentation of your injuries
    2. Ask your doctor to build a full-scope recovery plan and cost estimation
    3. Revisit your doctor routinely to track your medical progress
  2. Ask someone to collect photos and evidence of the drunk driving scene.
  3. Collect witness statements and contact information, if possible.
  4. Document any property damage and other non-medical losses.

Finding the Right Representation

If you’re preparing to sue a drunk driver for the harm they have caused, you don’t have to do it alone. You shouldn’t. It is vital to hire a personal injury attorney to represent you in court, fight for you against the insurance agency, and defend you while you focus on physical and emotional recovery.

Look for a personal injury attorney who understands your situation and with whom you communicate well. The attorneys at Rhoades & Morrow of Delaware are here to defend you and represent your needs. We will listen to your situation, help you gather the necessary evidence to build a strong case, and ensure you get a fair settlement for all the pain and loss you have experienced.

Contact us today to consult on your case.


Delaware Injury Lawyers

R & M Lawyers
Rhoades & Morrow

Our attorneys provide exceptional legal service with a personal touch. Since our founding in 1990, we have helped thousands of Delaware citizens obtain full and just compensation for personal injury claims. We have gained an excellent reputation as the “go to” law firm. Let us put our decades of experience to work for you.

Skip to content