Drunk driving is one of the few universally unacceptable behaviors in American society. We cannot overstate the danger that an intoxicated driver poses to others on or near a road. If you were the victim of a drunk driver or lost a loved one, here is a guide outlining what you should know.
What Is Drunk Driving?
Drunk driving or impaired driving occurs when someone operates a motor vehicle despite meeting the legal threshold for impairment. This threshold is 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC), though impairment might occur at lower thresholds for some drivers.
For some groups, the threshold for intoxication is even lower. For example, a truck driver must not have a BAC of 0.04 or greater while operating their commercial vehicle. Most states have zero-tolerance laws for drivers under the legal drinking age of 21.
If a driver causes injuries or death and has alcohol in their system, they can be civilly liable for resulting harm. As the victim of an accident, speaking with a car accident lawyer can help you determine if you have a legal case as a drunk driving accident victim.
The Dangers of Drunk Driving
Intoxication is not good for one’s driving abilities.
Studies show the dangers of drunk driving, as an intoxicated motorist may:
- Act impulsively
- Be more fearless, leading them to make risky decisions
- Have poor vision
- Have less situational awareness
- Have slower reaction times
- Have slower motor function
- Have slower reaction times and fail to react appropriately to changing road conditions
The biological effects that alcohol has on the body may lead to dangerous driving behaviors.
An intoxicated driver is more likely to:
- Change lanes aggressively
- Cross traffic in a reckless manner
- Miss or ignore stop signs, traffic lights, and yield signs
- Engage in other behaviors that increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and deaths
These are not surprising findings. Most people who objectively consider their behavior know that drinking is not good for their driving abilities or their physical and cognitive function.
In addition to consuming alcohol, drivers may also become dangerous if they consume:
- Prescription drugs
- Excessive caffeine
- Over-the-counter medications that cause drowsiness or disorienting side effects
If impairment of any kind contributed to your accident, the offending driver (and possibly others) might be liable for your losses.
Who Is Liable for a Drunk Driving Accident?
A drunk driver is generally liable for any accident they cause. In almost every case, a drunk driver will meet the criteria for negligence.
An attorney may prove negligence in your case by:
- Establishing that the drunk driver owed you a duty of care: Every motorist on every road in America has a duty of care. This duty compels them to act reasonably.
- Showing that the motorist breached their duty of care: Driving while intoxicated is never a reasonable act. By proving that the motorist was drunk and driving a vehicle, your attorney may prove they breached their duty of care.
- Showing that drunk driving, or other dangerous behaviors, caused your accident: Your attorney will aim to tie the defendant’s breach of duty of care to your accident.
- Presenting losses from the accident: Your attorney will show how your drunk driving accident has caused you harm.
This negligence test may also apply to other defendants in your case, like an establishment that overserved the drunk driver. Several states allow victims to hold alcohol servers liable when they contribute to certain drunk driving accidents.
In some cases, employers are liable for the negligent acts of their employees. If the drunk driver was on the job or was leaving a work-related function where they consumed alcohol, you may hold an employer liable. You may hold parents liable for the negligence of drunk minors who cause collisions in certain circumstances.
Recoverable Damages in Drunk Driving Accident Cases
Each drunk driving accident case is different.
An attorney will need to review your specific circumstances to identify your recoverable damages, which may account for:
- Medical care
- Rehabilitation costs
- Temporary transportation
- Permanent disability
- Lost wages or salary
- Lost bonuses, benefits, and promotions
- Pain and suffering
- Psychological treatment
- Property damage
- A loved one’s wrongful death
In the case of wrongful death, you may get coverage for lost companionship, loss of parental guidance, funeral costs, lost financial support, lost household value, and other damages.
What Should You Do After a Drunk Driving Accident?
Getting immediate medical care should be your first priority after a drunk driving accident. Then, hiring an attorney should be your next step, as an attorney will have advice that helps you in every aspect of your case.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help With Your Drunk Driving Case?
A car accident attorney will lead your case, and their duties may include:
- Gathering all relevant evidence from your drunk driving accident: They may get witness accounts of the driver’s impairment, blood and breath tests, the police report, video footage, and other evidence related to your case.
- Identifying all of your losses: Your attorney may need to identify all your accident-related losses before seeking fair compensation. They’ll consider past and future losses, including both economic and non-economic damages.
- Leading settlement negotiations: Most civil cases end with a settlement, though your attorney should also be willing to complete a trial if necessary.
- Protecting you: An attorney will defend your rights. They’ll prevent insurance companies, liable parties, and other attorneys from contacting you.
Hiring an attorney to lead your case may provide much-needed peace of mind. Your life may be hectic following your accident, and handling your own case will almost certainly add to your stress. Let an attorney fight for you.
Call a Car Accident Lawyer Today to Pursue Justice
There is no question about it: If you have suffered harm because of a drunk driver, you deserve justice. Personal injury and wrongful death cases can be complicated, time-consuming, and contentious.
Let a car accident lawyer seek justice so you can focus on what matters most-recovery, grieving, your loved ones, or any other priorities in your life.