Unfortunately, most of us are all too familiar with the concept of driving while either drunk or under the influence. While it is abundantly clear that driving while intoxicated is dangerous – not to mention illegal – people do it anyway. If you have been involved in an accident with a drunk driver, it is very likely that your situation will qualify as a personal injury case.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, just about 30 people die every day as a result of accidents involving drivers under the influence of alcohol. Approximately $59 billion is spent each year on crashes involving alcohol. While we wish that these accidents didn’t ever happen, luckily there are some things we can do to prevent them in the future:
- Pick a Designated Driver
The easiest and simplest way to prevent drunk driving accidents is to pick someone who will remain sober for the evening to ensure your safe return home. If no one in your group wants to volunteer, considering hiring a taxi or using one of the many forms of public transportation available to bring you to and from your destination.
- Be aware
You should of course always be cautious when you drive, but you should take extra caution when you are driving late at night, on holidays, or other times when the likelihood of encountering drunk drivers is higher.
There are also things that law enforcement officials can do to prevent people from driving drunk:
- Consistently enforce laws regarding Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) and the legal drinking age
- Continue to educate the general public on these laws
- Take away the licenses of people who break these laws
If an accident involving drunk driving occurs, there are several ways the situation can move forward.
- Criminal Charges
Whether or not an accident victim decides to pursue a lawsuit, the drunk driver will face serious legal consequences. (A driver, when caught, will face consequences whether or not an accident actually occurred, usually in the form of jail time, significant fines, or both).
- Personal Injury Lawsuit
Depending on the state, victims of drunk driving accidents can file lawsuits against intoxicated individuals. These suits can cover compensation for things like medical bills, lost wages due to forced time off from work, or even for pain and suffering of family members (in cases where the victim does not survive).
What To Do
There are a few things that those involved in drunk driving accidents should know. Currently, some states have what are called no-fault laws. These laws make it so that victims of drunk driving accidents may only file lawsuits if their injuries are severe enough or if the damages they face are expensive enough (the threshold for each of these varies by state). States that do not have no-fault laws are known as pure negligence states. In these states, all that is needed for a lawsuit is proof that the person was actually under the influence at the time of the accident.
If you’ve been in a drunk driving accident, here are the immediate steps you should take:
- Contact emergency personnel
- Evaluate any injuries you may have sustained and seek medical treatment
- Report the accident to your insurance company
- Write down as much as you can remember about the circumstances surrounding the accident
- Contact an attorney to discuss your options
If a family member or loved one of yours passed away as a result of a drunk driving accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit and receive payment for any medical treatment they may have received prior to death, as well as the emotional difficulties that you have had to go through. Of course, nothing can bring back loved ones, but often the only way the law can recognize this significant loss is through financial compensation.
Here at Tate Law Group, we have extensive experience dealing with drunk driving and personal injury cases. We encourage you to contact us to see how we can help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible.