Can I Sue for Damages Caused by a Drunk Driver in Vermont?

Vermont is known for its scenic beauty and laidback lifestyle. Unfortunately, the state also has a high incidence of drunk driving accidents. If you have been involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you have the right to seek compensation for your damages. This article will explore the legal options available to you in Vermont.

Drunk Driving in Vermont

Drunk driving is a serious offense in Vermont, and the state has taken measures to combat the problem. In 2018, Vermont had 105 alcohol-related fatalities, accounting for 30% of all traffic deaths in the state. To combat drunk driving, Vermont has implemented a number of laws and regulations, including:

  • A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.08% for drivers over 21
  • A zero-tolerance law for drivers under 21
  • Increased law enforcement patrols and checkpoints
  • Mandatory ignition interlock devices (breathalyzers) for some offenders

Despite these efforts, drunk driving accidents still occur in Vermont, and innocent victims continue to suffer.

Fault and Liability in Vermont Drunk Driving Accidents

In Vermont, drunk driving accidents are treated as negligence cases. Negligence is the failure to exercise reasonable care in a given situation, resulting in harm to another person. In a drunk driving case, the driver’s decision to get behind the wheel while impaired is considered a breach of their duty to exercise reasonable care.

To establish fault and liability in a Vermont drunk driving accident, you must prove four elements:

  • The driver had a duty to exercise reasonable care while driving.
  • The driver breached that duty by driving while impaired.
  • The breach of duty caused the accident and resulting injuries.
  • You sustained damages as a result of the accident.

If you can prove these elements, you may be able to recover compensation for your damages.

Types of Damages in a Vermont Drunk Driving Lawsuit

If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident in Vermont, you may be entitled to several types of damages:

  • Economic damages: These are expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.
  • Non-economic damages: These are damages that do not involve a specific monetary loss, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
  • Punitive damages: These damages are awarded to punish the driver for their reckless conduct and deter future drunk driving.

Time Limits for Filing a Vermont Drunk Driving Lawsuit

In Vermont, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is three years from the date of the accident. This means that you must file your lawsuit within three years of the accident or you will lose your right to seek compensation. It is important to consult with an experienced Vermont personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident to ensure your rights are protected.

Insurance and Vermont Drunk Driving Lawsuits

Vermont is a "fault" state, which means that the driver who caused the accident is responsible for paying damages. However, many drunk drivers in Vermont are uninsured or underinsured, which can complicate your ability to recover compensation.

If the drunk driver has insurance, their liability coverage will typically cover your damages up to the policy limits. If the driver’s policy limits are not enough to cover your damages, you may be able to file a claim under your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage is designed to protect you if you are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Consult with an Experienced Vermont Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident in Vermont, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Your attorney can help you understand your legal options and seek the compensation you deserve. Contact a Vermont personal injury lawyer today to schedule a free consultation.

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