Drunk Driving Claim

The legal alcohol limit in Oregon is 0.08 BAC (Blood Alcohol Content).  However, contrary to public perception, a driver can still be charged with a DUII (Driving While Under the Influence of Intoxicants) with a BAC below this limit, if the driver fails tests and/or shows signs of being “under the influence of alcohol”.

When a driver causes a car accident that injures or kills another person, the victim (or victim’s family, in the case of a wrongful death), can file a civil claim against the drunk driver.  Simultaneously, the drunk driver will also be involved with a criminal case through the District Attorney’s (DA) office. The process of filing a claim against a drunk driver is much the same as filing a claim against any negligent driver who causes injury to another person.  If the drunk driver has auto insurance then the claim is against the at-fault insurance company. If that insurance policy does not provide adequate coverage, a claim can also be filed with the victim’s own auto insurance through the Underinsured Motorist (UIM) portion their coverage.  If the drunk driver is driving while uninsured, then the victim’s own auto insurance will provide coverage through an Uninsured Motorist (UM) claim.

Like with any other car accident claim, the victim’s own auto insurance (PIP) will pay for the medical bills up to $15,000 or for up to two years, whichever comes first.  At the resolution of the case, PIP will be reimbursed from the at-fault insurance. They will typically handle their reimbursement through inter-company arbitration, however, in some instances they will request that the plaintiff recover their subrogation amount as part of any potential settlement.

It is essential to obtain a copy of the police report which will outline the DUII charges and the BAC of the drunk driver.  This will typically come from the DA’s office when they are able to release documents from the criminal portion of the case.

drunk driving claim oregon

Oregon DUI Lawyer

As with other personal injury claims, drunk driving claims encompass both economic and non-economic damages.  Economic damages cover all of the medical bills, lost wages, and other pecuniary losses (basically anything that can be proven financially).  Non-economic losses encompass all of the intangible losses, commonly referred to as “pain and suffering”. If a lawsuit is filed on a drunk driving claim, “punitive damages” can also be included as part of the “prayer” amount.  This amount is to punish the drunk driver and deter the drunk driver from making the same negligent and unlawful act again.

During the investigation and discovery process, it is important to determine where the drunk driver consumed alcohol.  If it can be proven that the drunk driver was served alcohol while “visibly intoxicated”, then a Dram Shop claim can be filed against the establishment that served the alcohol.  This provides another layer of insurance coverage for the drunk driving claim. Contact us for more information on our services as Oregon drunk driving lawyer.

Ryan is a member of the Oregon State Bar, the Washington State Bar, and the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association.

Ryan was named a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers Magazine for six years in a row, a selection for the top attorneys under 40 years old. During those years, he was also listed as one of Oregon's Outstanding Young Lawyers by Portland Monthly Magazine and the American Registry.


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My name is Linda and my son in law recommended Ryan Hilts. I did not think I needed a lawyer. My son in law said "If you don't win you don't pay". That made a lot of sense to me. After calling Ryan I realized how comforting it is to have a lawyer. I was in a car accident. The driver was drunk and hit me and took off. A hit and run accident. Ryan told me by Oregon Law I was able to go to the doctors. I was able to get the much needed help. My Chiropractor was amazing. It took time to heal. Ryan was always available and always called me back, when I had any questions. He is a wonderful family man. A man of integrity. He also sent emails and texts to wish our family well on all the Holidays. He went above and beyond what was expected. My case was won without a doubt. I would definitely go back to Ryan for any lawyer needs. He is a good man and you can trust him. Thank you Ryan for everything, words are not enough to express all you did for us.

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I was recommended to Mr. Hilts by a friend when I had my car accident. I was very impressed with his knowledge and the way he guided me through the process. I appreciated that he always returned my calls and kept me informed about the progress of my case.

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