Car accidents happen daily for many reasons, and some are out of a driver’s control, including dangerous road conditions and vehicle malfunctions.
However, when a drunk person gets behind the wheel of a car and causes an accident, that’s an entirely different story.
Drunk driving car accidents are always preventable. Had the drunk individual gone the safe and responsible route and not driven, the collision would never have happened, and the victim might not have sustained serious injuries and financial losses.
If a drunk driving car accident injured you, you may pursue fair compensation for the wrongs done unto you. A Bronx car accident attorney can provide the guidance and representation you need in this challenging time.
Drunk Driving Collisions – The Statistics
A simple internet search should be enough to scare a person into never drinking and driving. The numbers are truly alarming.
On average, 32 people are killed in accidents involving drunk drivers every single day. That means one death every 45 minutes.
In a recent year, over 11,000 drunk driving accidents resulted in fatalities. This accounted for about 30 percent of all traffic accident-related deaths in the U.S., and an over 14 percent increase from the year prior.
A drunk driver doesn’t just kill other drivers but also their passengers, pedestrians, and even themselves in some cases.
Despite the known risks of drinking and driving, people continue to drive impaired every day. Recently, a study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) revealed that about 18.5 million drivers had driven while under the influence of alcohol that year.
Because the number of drunk drivers and impaired driving accidents doesn’t seem to decrease, more and more individuals’ lives will forever change due to drunk driving accidents every year.
What Classifies as “Drunk Driving?”
A driver should never get behind the wheel if they’ve had any drinks or consumed any substances. However, in the eyes of the law, drunk driving depends on a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC).
Under the law, a person driving with a BAC of 0.08 percent or greater is considered drunk or under the influence. Once a person’s BAC hits the legal limit, they can face criminal penalties.
Every state’s drunk driving laws vary, including other BAC requirements for specific drivers. For instance, the legal limit for commercial drivers is generally 0.04 percent, half the threshold for non-commercial drivers.
In many states, if a person under the age of 21 (the legal drinking age) has any alcohol at all in their system, they may face consequences, even if their BAC doesn’t reach 0.08 percent.
Additionally, most states have an enhanced penalty BAC, which results in more severe penalties for a person with an extremely high BAC. The enhanced penalty BAC ranges between 0.10 percent and 0.20 percent, depending on the state.
Some wonder how many drinks it takes for a person to be drunk, but every drink has a different percentage of alcohol, and every person’s body and tolerance vary. No one-size-fits-all test can determine how many drinks a person can consume before driving, so drivers should always err on the safe side. Doing so can avoid criminal penalties and car accidents.
How Alcohol Affects the Body and Mind
Alcohol can impair a person’s physical and cognitive functions. Because alcohol is a downer, it generally causes a person to slow mentally and physically, which increases the chances of causing a wreck.
Reduced Reaction Times
Alcohol can significantly slow a person down, interfering with their reaction speeds.
One study showed that a drunk person’s reaction time slowed to 120 milliseconds. This means that driving at 70 miles per hour, a drunk driver can travel an extra 12 feet before reacting to a hazard.
Decline in Visual Function
Driving requires you to keep your eyes on the road at all times. However, a drunk person’s visual functions decline considerably.
Alcohol can weaken the eye muscles, causing blurred and double vision.
Loss of Judgment
Drivers need good judgment while driving to maneuver the road safely and avoid potential hazards.
Alcohol can cause a person to lose their sense of judgment. Clear thinking and responsible decision-making disappear quickly after drinking.
Alcohol can result in difficulty concentrating. When drivers cannot concentrate properly on the road, they are more likely to miss potential dangers and cause collisions.
Injuries Regularly Caused by Drunk Driving Accidents
Vehicular collisions, in general, can cause severe injury to victims. However, drunk driving accidents tend to result in especially serious harm to those involved, often because drunk drivers travel at high speeds, resulting in stronger impact.
A drunk driving accident can lead to endless kinds of bodily injury, but some of the injuries victims of these accidents commonly face include:
- Cuts and lacerations
- Fractured and broken bones
- Head and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
Unfortunately, the harm caused by a drunk driving accident can leave victims to deal with the consequences of their injuries. This regularly includes paralysis, brain damage, and permanent disfigurement.
Taking Action After a Drunk Driving Collision
If you or a loved one suffers harm and financial losses in a drunk driving accident, you can pursue compensation from the party responsible.
When you’re involved in a car accident, you can file an insurance claim for compensation either through your own insurance or the other driver’s insurance, depending on whether your state is a fault or no-fault state.
If you suffered severe injuries in a drunk driving accident, insurance policy limits may not cover the extent of your injuries and financial losses. If so, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit for additional compensation.
Car accident victims can file personal injury lawsuits to recover monetarily. However, if you lost a loved one due to a drunk driving accident, you can also obtain compensation for your losses.
A wrongful death lawsuit allows a victim's surviving family members and dependents to recover compensation for the financial impact of losing their loved one.
Whether you’ve suffered harm or lost a loved one to a drunk driver’s selfish actions, always speak to a car accident attorney at your earliest convenience. An attorney can provide knowledgeable guidance and advice and determine the best way to handle your claim for financial recovery.
Proving Liability for Drunk Driving Accidents
When pursuing justice for the wrongs a drunk driver has committed, you must take the necessary steps to prove their liability.
- Since the other party’s liability depends on negligent actions, you must establish the elements of negligence.
First, you must show the driver owed you a duty of care. Drivers owe others on the road a duty of care to drive safely to keep everyone free from harm.
- The second element involves showing how the driver’s actions resulted in a breach of duty. Violating drunk driving laws is automatically negligent and an obvious breach of their duty of care in most cases.
- Next, you must exhibit the connection between the drunk driver’s actions and your accident. You must demonstrate that the driver's conduct directly led to the crash in question.
- The final element requires proving you suffered injuries and monetary losses due to the drunk driving accident.
When an impaired driver caused your collision, plenty of evidence can prove the person’s negligence. Some examples of strong evidence include police reports and copies of citations, arrest reports, and criminal convictions. Still, you need a personal injury lawyer to collect and present this evidence to the insurance company and, if necessary, the jury.
Potential Compensation for Injuries and Losses Caused by a Drunk Driver
Personal injury damages aim to compensate injured victims for their physical, mental, and financial harm. Compensatory damages include economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages involve the collision-related losses you’ve suffered that are more easily provable:
- Medical bills for past and future medical needs
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Expenses for long-term or in-home care
- Lost earnings
- Diminished or lost earning capacity
- Property damage
Non-economic damages are also related to your accident but commonly require a bit more evidence to substantiate.
They can include:
- Mental and emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
When filing a wrongful death lawsuit, damages serve to compensate a victim’s family for the financial losses related to their loved one’s death.
These damages can include:
- Funeral and burial costs
- The victim’s healthcare expenses before their passing
- Financial support the family should have received had the victim not passed away
- The value of the care, guidance, and support the victim should have otherwise provided their dependents
- Pain and suffering endured by the victim before their death
Certain drunk driving accident cases may qualify for punitive damages along with compensatory damages. Punitive damages do not compensate victims or their families, they punish the defendant’s intentional or malicious actions. For example, punitive damages might apply if a defendant had a long history of drinking and driving or had a particularly high BAC.
Understanding the value of your drunk driving claim can ensure you receive the fair compensation you need and deserve.
Statutes of Limitations for Drunk Driving Car Accidents
Unfortunately, the law imposes statutes of limitations on civil lawsuits. A statute of limitations cuts the time you have to file your car accident lawsuit in court short, depending on the type of claim you file.
When filing a personal injury claim, you usually have about one to six years to file your lawsuit, depending on your state’s laws. Once the time clock has run, you no longer can recover monetarily.
While it can be difficult to consider engaging in a legal battle if you’re dealing with extensive injuries or a loss, you must handle your case promptly to protect your right to compensation.
Seek Representation from a Skilled Car Accident Attorney
When you suffer losses in a drunk driving accident, you have options. A car accident lawyer can explain your rights and determine how best to pursue compensation on your behalf.
Do not hesitate to consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible after your collision. Your lawyer can represent your best interests and work tirelessly to get you the best possible outcome for your case.