Drunk driver damaged our home and several cars...

by Steve
(Midletown, OH, USA)

A drunk driver going at high speed veered off the road, swiped the side of our utility pole then totaled our van. As it was hit our van slid over and hit the side of our sedan, then the drunk driver hit the side of our house, knocking out 4 ft of foundation concrete under our home and part of the outside wall.

Me, my wife, and my daughter were not injured but were in the house when this happened, so we are emotionally distraught. We already have had his insurance company repair the sedan to working order again.

We bought another vehicle to replace the van, however our van was paid off and they only gave us a settlement of the value of the van, so we are having to pay for a loan again for several years.

Now we are in the process of handling our damaged home with our home insurance. They are cutting me a check for almost $19,000. Is there anything we can do to get back more money from the drunk driver's insurance company, or any other way to get him to compensate us for all this? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Drunk driver damaged our home and several cars...":

Steve (Midletown, OH, USA):

The driver was likely arrested for Driving While Intoxicated, or Driving Under the Influence. That means he or she will have to appear in court to face the charge(s) against him or her. Depending upon the driver’s prior driving or criminal record, he or she may be placed on probation or sentenced to a jail or prison term.

While your anger may want you to hope the driver is sentenced to incarceration, think twice about that. If the driver is instead placed on probation, he or she will will have probation conditions. Those conditions can include monthly reporting to a probation officer, the paying of a fine, and court costs.

There is the possibility of another requirement. That is to have the judge order the driver to make restitution for the damage he or she caused to your home, autos and other personal property. This is so even if the driver’s insurance has already paid its limits.

The judge can order the driver to make monthly payments to the probation department. These payments will reflect restitution to you. Once the payments are made, the court’s administration will have this sent to you. To effect this process will require you to contact the prosecutor on the case.

Explain to the prosecutor you are the victim in the case and would appreciate if you could fill out a "Victim Impact Statement," or at least submit to the judge the amount of your damages so that the judge (court) can order the driver to make restitution payments. Ask the prosecutor if he or she believes it would be helpful if you came to court to testify.

If the judge imposes restitution as a condition of probation, and the driver fails to make those payments, he or she will likely be sentenced to jail or prison for the remainder of his or her sentence.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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