Drunk driving can change survivors’ lives forever, and sometimes, it can end lives altogether. Unfortunately, crashes involving impaired drivers are increasing, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). On average, one person dies every 45 minutes in alcohol-related accidents.
Driving impaired not only endangers the drunk driver but also others on the road. However, if a drunk driver causes your accident and damages, you could have a legal claim and recover compensation such as wage losses, healthcare costs, pain and anguish, and more.
Morgan & Morgan is here for you. Our experienced car accident lawyers can clarify your legal options, help you assert your legal rights, and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to discover your next best steps in a free case review.
What Counts as Drunk Driving?
Drunk driving is illegal. In most states, individuals with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher are considered “over the limit” for operating a vehicle. Some states have set lower BAC limits between 0.00 and 0.02 percent for drivers under 21 years of age. The legal terms for drunk driving are:
- Driving while impaired (DWI)
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Operating while impaired (OWI)
- Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol (OVI)
How Alcohol Impacts Drivers
Alcohol blocks signals between brain cells and can lead to various impairments, such as slurred speech, impulsive behavior, loss of judgment, and slowed reflexes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol can also influence drivers in the following ways:
- Inability to multitask
- Difficulty concentrating on driving
- Decline in eyesight
- Longer reaction time
- Impaired motor skills
- Problems with staying in lane, braking, and steering
Is a Drunk Driver Automatically Negligent and At-Fault for an Accident?
In most states, a drunk driver is automatically considered negligent in an accident, which, in legal terms, is called "negligence per se." While negligence per se can make it easier for injured victims to get justice, consider that you still have to prove the following to qualify for damages:
- The driver was drunk at the time of the crash
- Your injuries are a direct result of the other driver’s negligence
- You have damages such as medical expenses or others
Therefore, in a lawsuit, you will still have to prove certain elements of a personal injury claim to have a chance of success.
Recovering Compensation From a Drunk Driver
Victims often believe that recovering compensation from an at-fault drunk driver is straightforward. While this can be true in some accidents, recovering fair compensation for your injuries and financial losses can still be tricky. For example, a drunk driver may be uninsured or underinsured. Moreover, even if the intoxicated driver is adequately insured, the insurance company could fight your claim tooth and nail by alleging:
- You caused the accident
- You exaggerated your injuries
- Your damages should be reduced as you were partly at-fault
Morgan & Morgan’s car accident lawyers could help you fight back if you or a loved one suffered injuries in an accident with an impaired driver. We can determine all liable parties in your collision, negotiate with the insurance company, and pursue fair compensation on your behalf.
What to Do if a Drunk Driver Hits Your Car
If you have an accident involving a drunk driver, protecting your legal rights is crucial. Call 911 and report the crash promptly, even if the impaired driver tries to talk you out of it. Law enforcement should conduct a blood alcohol test of the impaired driver at the scene of the accident, which can be vital evidence for your later claim. Your next steps can include:
Seeking Medical Attention
Even if you think you suffered no significant injuries, seeing your doctor immediately after a crash can be essential for your health and legal rights. A medical professional can diagnose and treat injuries promptly or put your mind at rest by ruling out any serious injuries. Seeking medical help can be critical for proving your injuries and providing the evidence you need for a personal injury claim.
Collecting Other Drivers’ Contact Details
Make sure to collect the contact details and insurance information from the drunk driver and any other drivers involved in the crash. It can be an excellent idea to ask anyone who saw the accident for their contact details, as witnesses may leave the scene before the police arrive. Eyewitness statements can help to prove that the at-fault driver was drunk and caused your accident.
Collecting evidence can be critical for your claim. Photographs of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, and your injuries can help reconstruction professionals understand how the accident happened and whether the drunk driver caused the crash. You should also gather any evidence of your losses related to the accident, such as medical bills, medication expenses, wage loss, and out-of-pocket costs.
Calling Your Car Insurance Company
After an accident, contacting your insurance agent as soon as possible can be beneficial. Some victims may be able to file a claim and recover compensation from their own insurer. The sooner you start the claims process, the sooner you could receive coverage for your losses.
Contacting a Car Accident Lawyer
Consider seeking the advice of an experienced car accident attorney immediately after getting hit by a drunk driver, especially if you suffer severe injuries. Our dedicated lawyers can:
- Inform you of your legal rights
- Assess your options for recovering compensation
- Help you navigate the legal process
- Move forward with a claim on your behalf
Victims of Drunk Drivers Can Seek Compensation
A serious crash can cause severe and permanent injuries, potentially leading to costly and long-term medical treatments and income losses. However, you should not have to shoulder the costs if a drunk driver caused your accident, injuries, and financial losses. You could qualify for damages such as:
- Medical expenses and future estimated healthcare costs
- Medical devices
- Rehabilitation therapies
- Lost wages and future expected loss of income
- Pain and anguish
- Emotional suffering
- Property damage
- Reduced life enjoyment
- Punitive damages
Knowing what you are entitled to can be crucial for getting justice. A seasoned car accident lawyer at Morgan & Morgan can determine a fair settlement amount for your damages.
How Morgan & Morgan Can Help Victims of Drunk Drivers
Having excellent legal representation can be crucial when a drunk driver hits your car. Although the at-fault driver may be automatically negligent, you still have to prove your claim. Moreover, handling the insurance company and getting what you deserve could be challenging. If you have significant injuries and monetary losses, our car accident attorneys can protect you from an insurer’s manipulative tactics and attempts to minimize or deny your claim. Other ways in which our experienced car accident attorneys could help include:
- Offer legal guidance
- Gather evidence to prove your injury claim
- Determine a figure for your financial losses and suffering
- Negotiate a fair out-of-court settlement with an insurance company
- File a lawsuit on your behalf
- Present your case powerfully at trial
Morgan & Morgan can handle your drunk driving accident case from start to finish while you are recovering from your injuries.