Can I Sue Someone Who Hit Me While Drunk? A Comprehensive Guide

Morgan Ferrell

It is still a big problem in the United States to drive while drunk, and it can lead to very bad things. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 32% of the total vehicle traffic fatalities in 2022 were caused by alcohol-impaired driving

If a drunk driver hits you, you might be able to get money to pay for your injuries and other losses. But the law can be hard to understand, so it’s important to know what your rights and choices are.

If you’ve been hurt by a drunk driver, this article will explain your rights, what factors might affect the result of your lawsuit, and give you advice from legal experts on how to make a strong case.

Can I Sue a Drunk Driver?

You can definitely sue someone who hits you while drunk or going too fast. Driving while drunk is illegal in most states, so if you get into an accident while you’re drunk, you could be charged with both crimes and civil damages.

Criminal vs. Civil Cases

  • Criminal Case: If a drunk driver breaks the law, the state will charge them. They may have to pay a fine, go to jail, or face other punishments.
  • Civil Case: The person who was hurt sues the drunk driver to get money for things like medical bills, lost pay, pain and suffering, and more.

It is interesting to note that criminal and civil cases have very different results that have nothing to do with each other. So, even if a drunk driver is found guilty in a criminal trial, they will still have to pay for what they did, whether it’s through a civil suit or something else.

How You can Build a Strong Case

There are some things that can help your case if you decide to sue a drunk driver.

1. Proving Negligence

You have to show that the drunk driver’s carelessness directly caused your injuries in a personal injury case. The following parts are put in place:

  • Duty of Care: You are responsible for making sure that drunk drivers don’t drive your car in a safe and responsible way.
  • Breach of Duty: A driver who was drunk made a mess by driving while drunk.
  • Causation: You were hurt because of a drunk driver.
  • Damages: You can prove that you’ve lost something by looking at things like hospital bills, lost wages, or just feeling really bad.

2. Gathering Evidence

To build a good case, it’s important to gather and keep evidence. This could mean:

  • Police reports
  • Eyewitness testimonies
  • Photos or videos of the accident scene
  • Medical records documenting your injuries
  • Proof of the driver’s intoxication (breathalyzer or blood alcohol content results)
  • Expert witness testimony (e.g., accident reconstruction specialists, medical experts)

3. Determining Liability

Sometimes, people other than the drunk driver may be responsible for your injuries. As an example:

  • The bar or diner owner who was watching the driver.
  • The party host who gave the driver alcohol
  • Who the drunk driver works for (if the crash happened at work)

Talking to an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you figure out who might be at fault and increase your chances of getting a fair settlement.

Damages You Can Recover

If your lawsuit is successful, you may be entitled to recover a variety of damages, including:

  • Medical expenses (past and future)
  • Lost wages and future earning potential
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Permanent disability or disfigurement
  • Punitive damages (in cases of egregious misconduct)

Expert Advice and Tips

Check out these tips and tricks from experts to improve your chances of winning a DUI case.

  • Do not wait: You only have a certain amount of time to file a personal injury case, so you need to move quickly after an accident.
  • Don’t use social media: If you do post something about the crash or your injuries on social media, it could hurt you in court.
  • Write down everything: Write down all of your costs, including medical bills, time off from work, and any other harm the accident did.
  • Talk to an Attorney: Lawyers who help people get hurt know everything there is to know about cases involving drunk drivers and can protect your rights.
  • Be prepared for negotiations: People who have been hurt often settle their cases without going to court by talking to the other person’s insurance business.
  • Consider alternative dispute resolution: You might want to try settlement or arbitration instead of going to court to settle your disagreements. It may be faster and less expensive to do this than to file a standard lawsuit.


Being hit by a drunk driver can make you very angry and change your whole life. Even though money can’t really make up for what you went through, going to court can at least make the person responsible pay and let you deal with your injuries, losses, and other problems. Could give you some cash to deal with.

In order to improve your chances of winning your drunk driving case, you should know your rights, gather proof, and talk to skilled lawyers.

Just be careful, the law can be hard to understand, and each case is unique. Because of this, it is very important to talk to a good personal injury lawyer. They can look at your case and give you specific help to make sure you are covered.

Personal Injury Calculator | Estimate Potential Damages

Personal Injury Calculator

Use this calculator to estimate the potential damages you may be entitled to in a personal injury case.

New York

In New York, a bartender or host must stop giving someone drinks if it is clear that they are drunk. This is especially true if the person has been to a party or bar. If someone who is drunk is allowed to drive, they and the place where they got drunk are both responsible for what happens next.


There is no “dram shop” law in California, which means that places that serve alcohol will not be held responsible for any damage caused by drunk drivers. It’s usually covered by personal liability and commercial general liability insurance for social hosts who serve alcohol. But just to be safe, you should check your policy or ask the event organizers for proof of insurance. You should ask, you know?


If someone gets hurt by someone who has been drinking too much in Alabama, the person who served or gave them the alcohol that made them drunk can be sued. The liquor store owner might have to pay extra fines and compensation for all losses. In Alabama, there is a law that says the seller can pay for all damage.


As long as the person selling alcohol in Indiana knew for sure that the customer was drunk when they gave them the alcohol, and the loss was caused by the drunk person, then they are not responsible for any harm that happened.


If you sell alcohol or host a party in Georgia, you can get in trouble for giving alcohol to someone who is already drunk or to a child.

Frequently Ask Questions

  1. What if the drunk driver who hit me just drives off?

    It is illegal for someone to drive drunk and then leave the scene of an accident. This is called a hit-and-run. If you see this, call the cops right away and tell them everything you know about the driver or the car.

  2. Can I go to court against the place that served drink to a drunk driver?

    Some states have laws that say a place like a bar or restaurant can be held responsible if they sell alcohol to a drunk driver. These laws are called “dram shop” or “social host liability.”

  3. What effect does contributory or comparative carelessness have on my chances of getting money for my injuries?

    Some places may not let you get any money for an accident if you were even slightly to blame for it. This is called “contributory negligence.”

  4. If a driver with too many licenses is using a work or company car, what should be done?

    The law says that if the drunk driver was in an accident while driving a work vehicle or company car, the boss may have to pay for your injuries. This is called respondeat superior.

  5. If I was drunk when the accident happened, can I still sue?

    You can still sue the drunk driver even if you are drunk, but the amount of money you get for damages you caused by your own carelessness may be less.

  6. How long does it usually take for a drunk driving case to go through the courts?

    It may take a while for someone to be found guilty of drunk driving, based on how complicated the case is, how many people are involved, and how long the court proceedings last.

  7. What happens if a drunk driver goes bankrupt while their case is being heard?

    You might not be able to get reimbursement if the drunk driver files for bankruptcy while the case is actually going on. If you sue them, any money you win will basically be used to help them file for bankruptcy.

Share This Article
Personal injury lawyer Morgan Ferrell has 10+ years of experience. She fights for injury victims and has helped many get proper recompense. Morgan Ferrell writes about personal injury law for and other legal publications. Dedicated to quality and successful.