Drunk driving is illegal and extremely reckless. Despite years of public awareness campaigns and increasing penalties, it remains a stubborn problem on American roads. The disturbing prevalence of drunk-driving accidents across the United States continues to claim lives, wreak havoc, and destroy families.
If you or a loved one recently sustained harm in a drunk-driving accident, you may receive significant compensation for your losses. Contact an experienced Atlanta car accident injury lawyer today to learn more.
Drunk-Driving Accidents in America: A Destructive, Preventable Tragedy
The United States witnesses an alarming number of drunk-driving accidents each year, resulting in thousands of fatalities and a multitude of injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37 people die in drunk-driving crashes every day in the United States—that's one person every 39 minutes. Drunk driving took the lives of 13,384 victims in a recent year, representing a 14 percent increase over the prior period. These figures underscore the severity of the drunk-driving problem and its destructive ripple effects on society.
Victims of drunk-driving accidents don't just suffer immediate physical injuries, although these can be severe and often life-changing, including brain trauma, spinal cord damage, crushed limbs, internal injuries, and death. Victims also frequently grapple with profound emotional and psychological effects, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety.
The devastating financial consequences of drunk-driving accidents can leave victims facing expensive medical bills, vehicle repair costs, and the potential loss of income due to a disability or the tragic death of a loved one.
You are not alone when navigating a drunk-driving accident, however. The following sections discuss the legal aspects of drunk driving, the role of a personal injury lawyer in these cases, and how victims can pursue a personal injury claim to obtain the compensation they rightfully deserve.
A Drunk-Driving Accident Victim's Rights to Compensation
A lawyer can explain your right to compensation as a victim of a drunk-driving accident. A lawyer can then recover full compensation for the damages these accidents cause, such as medical bills and lost income.
Overview of Drunk Driving Personal Injury Claims
A drunk-driving accident claim involves personal injury law. A victim (or family member) typically files this type of claim against the drunk driver or other liable parties to recover damages for their injuries and losses. The principle of such a claim is that the drunk driver acted negligently by choosing to drive while impaired, thereby causing harm to others.
Liability in Drunk Driving Accident Claims
The drunk driver is normally liable for damages to injured accident victims. Others may also share liability, however. You can hold a bar or restaurant partially accountable for overserving alcohol to a driver, particularly if an underage drunk driver injured you. If the drunk driver was driving a work vehicle or was on the job at the time of the accident, you may hold their employer liable.
Other parties who have nothing to do with the drunk driver's reckless actions could also be liable for a crash, including another motorist or the manufacturer of defective auto parts that played a role in the collision.
An experienced drunk-driving accident lawyer considers all variables to evaluate liability for a crash. Skilled attorneys know that their client's chances of compensation rise when they can hold multiple parties liable for a drunk-driving collision.
Compensation for Drunk-Driving Accident Victims
Victims of drunk-driving accidents may claim compensation for their damages. These can include medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, loss of income and job benefits, property damage, and non-monetary damages for physical pain, emotional suffering, and diminished quality of life.
A court may also award punitive damages in a drunk-driving case to punish the at-fault driver (or other liable party) and deter similar behavior by others.
In the tragic case of a fatal drunk-driving accident, the victim's surviving spouse and family members may have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim against the liable party (or parties). This can provide compensation for the loss of their loved one's financial support, services, guidance, companionship, and consortium, among other damages.
Speak with an experienced drunk-driving accident attorney today to learn about the types and amounts of compensation you could claim after a drunk driver harms you or your loved one.
Frequently Asked Questions About Drunk-Driving Accident Injury Cases
Victims of drunk-driving accidents often have numerous questions about their rights, the legal process, and the potential outcomes. To shed light on some of the most common queries, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about drunk-driving accident injury cases.
Do I Have to Wait for the Drunk Driver's Criminal Case to End Before I Sue for Damages?
Not necessarily, but discuss the timing of your claim with an experienced car accident lawyer. Your legal right to seek compensation for the losses you suffered in a drunk-driving accident does not, as a basic principle, depend on the timing of any criminal charges against the drunk driver. It can sometimes benefit you, however, to wait to see how the criminal case against the driver develops because its outcome may smooth the way for your claim for damages.
An experienced lawyer can review the circumstances of your crash and advise you about the optimal timing for seeking compensation from the at-fault driver or other liable parties.
Can I Sue a Drunk Driver Who Is in Jail?
Yes, you can sue a drunk driver even while they serve jail time for their reckless, illegal actions. Criminal proceedings against a drunk driver do not prevent you from pursuing civil legal action for damages.
The drunk driver's liability insurance coverage is typically the primary source of payment for compensation, so the driver's incarceration does not necessarily influence whether or when you receive compensation.
Do I Have a Case if the Drunk Driver Didn't Receive a Criminal Prosecution?
Yes, you could still have a valid civil claim for damages. The standards of proof differ in criminal and civil cases, which can lead prosecutors to decide not to charge a driver criminally. You can still hold a drunk driver financially accountable for your losses in a civil case if the criminal court acquitted them or they never faced a charge.
What Is My Claim for Damages Worth?
The value of a drunk-driving accident claim varies depending on the severity of your injuries, the strength of your case for liability and damages, your lawyer's skill and reputation, and the financial resources available to pay your losses. Talk to an experienced attorney today to learn about the potential compensation you could receive.
How Long Will It Take to Receive Compensation?
The timeline for receiving compensation in a drunk-driving case also varies, depending on the complexity of the case, the number of involved parties, and whether the case goes to trial or settles out of court. Some drunk-driving accident injury claims end in a few months, whereas others might last a year or more. The fastest way to resolve your claim is to promptly hire a skilled lawyer to handle it.
Protecting Your Interests in the Wake of a Drunk-Driving Accident
Protect your interests following a drunk-driving accident. Taking the steps below could aid in your recovery and have a significant influence on the outcome of your claim for damages.
Focus on Healing
Make your health your top priority following a drunk-driving accident. Seek immediate medical attention, even if you don't think you have severe injuries. Some injuries may not immediately appear, and skipping a doctor's visit could damage your health and injury claim. Adhering to all recommended treatments and therapies provides evidence of your injuries and commitment to recovery.
Do Not Accept a Quick Insurance Settlement Without Talking to a Lawyer
Liability insurance companies often try to settle drunk-driving cases quickly, offering settlements that might seem substantial but are far less than what you deserve. Do not sign anything or accept any settlement offer without first talking to a Atlanta personal injury lawyer. A knowledgeable attorney can evaluate your claim, take over negotiations with the insurer, and often get you far more than what the insurance company offered.
Save Paperwork to Show to Your Lawyer
Keep all medical and repair bills, pay stubs, and other documents relating to the accident and your injuries. These documents can often provide your lawyer with crucial evidence to support your claim and help determine the value of your case.
Hire a Lawyer as Soon as Possible
Timing is essential in personal injury claims. Engaging a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident ensures they can preserve all evidence, identify witnesses, and meet all legal deadlines. An experienced lawyer will understand the complexities and intricacies of drunk-driving cases and can guide you through the process, increasing your chances of a favorable outcome.
Contact an Experienced Drunk-Driving Accident Injury Lawyer Today
Drivers who make the selfish, reckless decision to get behind the wheel after drinking deserve to be accountable for their actions. The consequences of drunk driving can take many forms.
One of them is the civil liability such drivers have for the harm they caused to innocent crash victims. The driver, and sometimes other parties, may owe compensation for all physical, emotional, and financial harm accident victims suffered.
If you or someone close to you recently sustained injuries in a drunk-driving accident, you don't have to face the challenges ahead alone. An experienced drunk-driving car accident injury lawyer can obtain compensation from the drunk driver and the insurance companies. Contact a knowledgeable lawyer in your area today for a free consultation.