March 24, 2015

According to statistics taken from 2013, alcohol-related crashes across Pennsylvania accounted for 32 percent of all traffic deaths. A new proposal offered by Pennsylvania State lawmakers is now aiming to change this by increasing the civil liabilities for drunk driving accidents.

The proposal would amend the current limitations placed on drunk driving accident victims. The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Representative Gerald Mullery, wants to lift a crucial restriction for victims of drunk driving accidents under Pennsylvania’s current car insurance laws.

In particular, Rep. Mullery wants to clarify language in existing laws which state that drunk drivers who are enrolled in accelerated rehabilitative disposition programs or convicted of drunk driving charges are liable for full financial penalties. Essentially, this means that the victim of a drunk driver, or the victim’s family, can sue the driver for full damages including pain and suffering.

The lawmaker, who is also an attorney, indicated that he decided to champion the issue after a resident of his district informed him of a problem with the current laws. That resident reported that her family was restricted to the limited type of recovery against a drunk driver who had injured her daughter. Apparently, that driver died before he had the opportunity to enroll in an ARD program or receive a conviction for drunk driving. The State Representative’s new proposal would automatically entitle victims to sue for full compensation in cases where a drunk or drugged driver dies in the accident. This would go into effect whenever a blood alcohol count in excess of state legal limits, or the presence of controlled substances, is discovered in a deceased drunk driver’s body.

Pennsylvania residents injured as a result of a drunk or otherwise impaired driver should know that personal injury laws allow victims to sue. This is especially true in situations where an accident could have clearly been prevented. If successful, injured victims can recover compensation for their medical expenses as well as any time lost from work.

Source: WITF News, “Loophole in DUI law would be eliminated by proposal” Ben Allen, Mar. 09, 2015