Many people like to drink alcoholic beverages. At parties, at bars, at concerts, alcohol consumption is common and tends to lend to a festive atmosphere. Often people let go of their inhibitions when under the influence of alcohol, let themselves go a little more than they otherwise might, and often have more fun.
However, alcohol also reduces brain function and impairs thinking, reasoning, and physical coordination. While some of these effects might enhance a good time, they definitely do not enhance your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. Quite the opposite. Nearly 29 people die in the United States every single day in traffic accidents involving alcohol, and in 2016, the toll was one person every 50 minutes. While drunk-driving accidents are down sharply in the last 30 years, such traffic accidents still claim more than 10,000 lives every year, costing roughly $44 billion in property and human damage every year.
If you have suffered injuries in a traffic accident involving a drunk driver, you should seek legal counsel to explore your options for recovering damages. The Atlanta car accident attorneys of Brauns Law can help you.
Contact us at (404) 205-8614, or through our online contact form.
Drunk Driving is a Sure-Fire Killer on the Roads
Drunk driving is a leading cause of traffic accidents in the United States each year. While numbers are down, drunk driving still caused 28 percent of all traffic-accident deaths in 2016. Also in 2016:
- There were nearly 10,500 fatalities from alcohol-impaired traffic accidents in the United States
- For children 14 years old or younger who died in traffic accidents, 17 percent dies as a result of alcohol-involved crashes
With more than one in four traffic deaths annually coming in alcohol-involved crashes nationally, how does Georgia stack up? In the 10 years from 2003 through 2012, nearly 3,700 died in alcohol-related traffic accidents in Georgia. That actually put Georgia below the national average in death rate by age. In 2012, that rate was 1.0 per 100,000 for people younger than 20 versus a national rate of 1.3 per 100,000; 5.8 per 100,000 for ages 21 through 34, as opposed to a national rate of 6.7; and an overall rate per 100,000 of 3.0 versus a national rate of 3.3.
Other statistics also make Georgia look relatively good compared to the national average. In 2016, Georgia suffered 368 drunk-driving fatalities, compared to 10,497 nationwide. That amounted to 23.5 percent of all traffic deaths in Georgia, compared to 28 percent of nationwide traffic fatalities consisting of drunk-driving deaths. However, in 2016, Georgia’s death rate from drunken-driving rose to 3.6 fatalities per 100,000 population, compared to 3.3 deaths per 100,000 nationwide.
Believe it or not, there are ways to avoid an accident with a drunk driver. Holiday weekends remain a dangerous time for drunk-driving accidents. For obvious reasons, holidays such as Memorial Day, Labor Day, and New Year’s Eve are very dangerous, with increasing risks of drunk driving traffic accidents and higher numbers of fatalities. Put simply, there are more drunk drivers on the road on holiday weekends. The best way to avoid an accident with a drunk driver is to avoid driving on holiday weekends, or at least not at night. The later at night on a holiday weekend, the more likely you are to at least see a drunk driver, if not encounter one in an up-close and personal sort of way that involves vehicle damage and injuries.
However, it is not always practical to avoid driving, and there may be drunk drivers on the road at any time on any given day. No matter how safe you are, a drunk driver can always crash into your car and cause you serious injuries.
Alcohol-related Traffic Fatalities in Atlanta, GA
After an Accident with a Drunk Driver, You Should Take Steps To Protect Your Rights
If you have the misfortune to be in an automobile accident that involves a drunk driver, you should immediately take steps to protect your rights. This might seem counter-intuitive if you are the sober driver. After all, drunk driving is against the law. The drunk driver is likely to be prosecuted criminally. A conviction of the intoxicated driver would surely help you to prove liability, would it not?
It never hurts to be sure. Your claim for compensation will come in a civil action, not in the criminal case. If you are seeking financial compensation for your injuries and damages, you still need to show that the other driver was at fault. A criminal conviction of the intoxicated driver helps, but you can do things at the scene of the accident to help your case.
If you are in an accident and you think the other driver is under the influence of alcohol or other substances, you should take certain steps, assuming you are able to do so. If you are able to do so, you should
- Call for 911 and ask for police and emergency medical assistance, as needed
- Avoid interaction with the driver you believe to be intoxicated. If you can, stay in your car, lock the doors and await the police
- Record the other driver’s license plate number
- Once the police are there, ask for a sobriety test for the other driver.
- Take pictures of the scene if you are able.
- As soon as you are able, record everything you remember about the accident, whether in writing or in audio on your phone. Note the time, location, and all other details you can remember about the accident, including names of passengers or other witnesses if possible.
Atlanta Drunk Driving Frequently Asked Questions FAQs
When a person decides to get behind the wheel of a car or truck while intoxicated, the consequences can be catastrophic and even deadly. Alcohol and drugs can seriously impair a driver’s vision and depth perception. When a drunk driver causes a motor vehicle collision that injures someone else, the drunk driver is legally liable.
Accidents caused by drunk drivers often occur at a high rate of speed, possibly leading to severe property damage and injuries for everyone involved. In the worst cases, a drunk driving accident can lead to the death of one or more of the vehicle occupants.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by a drunk driver, time is of the essence in your case. In personal injury cases—including those involving car accidents—injured accident victims only have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim for monetary damages. If they do not file a personal injury claim or file a lawsuit within that two-year time period, they forever waive their claim and are not eligible to obtain monetary compensation for their injuries.
An experienced Atlanta drunk driving accident lawyer can be extremely helpful when it comes to pursuing and obtaining monetary compensation for the injuries which you or your loved one suffered in a car accident. A lawyer can investigate the accident to determine how it occurred, and then can bring a personal injury claim on your behalf. If the at-fault driver’s insurance company refuses to make an acceptable settlement offer, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in the Georgia court system on your behalf, and take your case to a jury trial, if that becomes necessary.
What is the legal standard for drunk driving in the State of Georgia?
Georgia takes driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs very seriously. Individuals who are convicted on a drunk driving charge in the state can be charged criminally and may be subject to serious penalties, including jail time, monetary fines, probation, and community service, among others. If the drunk driver causes a motor vehicle collision in which one or more individuals sustain injuries, then the intoxicated driver can also be sued civilly for damages.
In the State of Georgia, the legal alcohol limit is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent. If an individual operates a motor vehicle while having a BAC more than the legal limit, police can arrest him or her on the spot. The state also has a zero-tolerance policy for minors (i.e. individuals who are youinger than 21 years old) who operate a motor vehicle with any alcohol in their system.
What are the first steps you should take after being involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver?
If you or a loved one were in a motor vehicle accident that you believe was caused by a drunk driver, there are certain steps that you should always take.
Those steps include the following:
- Call a police officer to the scene –When you dial 9-1-1 after a motor vehicle accident, a police officer and an ambulance will be dispatched to the scene. If you suspect that the at-fault driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, ask the police officer to prepare a formal report which states the cause of the accident—and which identifies who was at fault for the accident. A trained police officer will try to determine if the other driver was intoxicated at the time the accident occurred.
- Gather information – If you physically can do so after the accident, you should take down as much information as possible about the other driver, as well as any witnesses who may have come to the accident scene. Regarding witnesses, obtain their names and contact information, if possible, if your lawyer needs to contact them.
- Take pictures –In many cases, drunk drivers are obviously impaired. They may have slurred speech or bloodshot eyes, for example. Smartphones can help capture those symptoms of intoxication. Moreover, you should observe whether the other driver uses eye drops (in an attempt to disguise visibly bloodshot eyes) or tries to dispose of alcohol cans or bottles.
- Obtain medical treatment –If you believe that you were injured in the motor vehicle accident, you should seek follow-up medical treatment and care as soon as you can—preferably right after the accident. Your best bet is usually to travel in an ambulance directly to a hospital emergency room, to have a healthcare provider examine you. In many cases, it can be difficult to tell if you were injured in a car accident, since symptoms do not always develop right away. An emergency room doctor or nurse will diagnose you and, if you are injured, provide you with the treatment you need.
- Speak with our experienced Atlanta drunk driving attorneys –An experienced attorney can take care of all of the legal aspects of your claim, allowing you to focus your time and energy on getting better and recovering from your injuries. A lawyer can also investigate your accident and obtain copies of all of your treatment records and bills. Furthermore, a lawyer will try to find out if the drunk driver who caused your accident was a repeat offender who caused one or more previous traffic accidents. A knowledgeable Atlanta drunk driving accident lawyer will do everything possible to get you compensated to the greatest extent.
Does being high count as drunk driving in the context of motor vehicle accidents?
In the context of motor vehicle collisions, a driver under the influence of a drug—even a prescription drug—is treated the same as a driver operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Drugs can significantly alter a driver’s perception and may impair judgment and the speed at which he or she reacts to changing circumstances on the road. Moreover, some drugs can have hallucinogenic effects or blur the driver’s vision while behind the wheel.
If, after speaking with the other driver, you feel that something is just “not right,” share your observations with the police officer who comes to the accident scene. It may very well be that the at-fault driver was under the influence of drugs at the time the accident occurred.
What are some of the differences between drunk driving car accidents and “regular” car accidents?
Although any type of car accident can cause serious injuries, generally speaking, drunk driving car accidents tend to result in more extreme injuries to the individuals involved. Moreover, drunk driving accidents are more likely to lead to death for one or more of the vehicle occupants.
The manner in which drunk drivers typically operate their vehicles tracks with the seriousness of drunk driving accidents. In many cases, these drivers recklessly operate their vehicles at very high rates of speed with a very high degree of carelessness. In addition to delayed reaction time, blurred vision, and lack of depth perception, an intoxicated individual who gets behind the wheel of a car is likely to have trouble with muscular coordination and mental awareness, both of which can lead to a serious accident while driving.
Who can be liable for injuries suffered in a drunk driving accident?
There is no question that injuries suffered by a victim of a drunk driving accident can be serious—and sometimes even fatal. When an accident victim suffers serious injuries at the hands of a drunk driver, he or she may be forced to undergo complicated and expensive medical procedures, miss time from work, and endure weeks or months of pain, suffering, and inconvenience. In some cases, depending upon the injuries, an accident victim may be in severe pain for the remainder of his or her life. Fortunately, victims of drunk driving accidents may recover financial compensation from one or more sources.
First, the accident victim can file a civil claim or lawsuit against the drunk driver. Since the State of Georgia is a fault state, injured motor vehicle accident victims can bring a claim directly against the negligent drunk driver.
In some cases, however, a business owner may be fully or partially responsible for the drunk driving accident (and any resulting injuries) under Georgia’s “Dram Shop Law”. This state law holds business owners who knowingly sell alcoholic beverages to inebriated customers liable for the consequences. Since restaurant owners and bar owners are licensed to distribute alcohol to patrons, they are held to a high standard of care. These individuals are not supposed to sell alcoholic drinks to visibly intoxicated guests, and they should monitor the number of drinks that specific patrons buy.
In addition to the owners of restaurants and bars, a party host may also be legally liable for a car accident if the host continued to serve alcohol to an individual who was already visibly intoxicated. This is especially true if the host knowingly served alcohol to an underage minor (i.e. someone who is under 21 years of age).
What are the types of damages I may potentially recover after being injured in a drunk driving accident?
Anyone who is injured in an accident that was caused by the irresponsibility of a drunk driver can file a claim for damages. As with any car accident, for you to be eligible for damages, you must have sustained one or more physical injuries in the car accident. Moreover, the car accident must have been a cause (or one of the causes) of the injury or injuries that you are claiming.
It is no secret that injuries resulting from a drunk driving accident can be severe and may require a great deal of medical treatment. Consequently, an accident victim is entitled to pursue monetary compensation for the reasonable costs of all related medical care. This includes both the care you received in the past, along with the anticipated costs of future medical care.
Victims of drunk driving accidents may also be forced to miss a significant amount of time from their job to receive treatment for their injuries. These accident victims can make a lost wage claim, in an attempt to recoup some or all of these wage losses.
Additionally, victims of drunk driving accidents can file a claim for non-economic damages. Non-economic damages cover the intangible losses that the victim suffers as a result of the accident. Intangible losses include compensation for mental distress, emotional anguish, pain and suffering, permanent disability, permanent inability to work, loss of family support, and loss of spousal companionship. An experienced drunk driving accident attorney in Atlanta can assist you with pursuing the damages you need for your out-of-pocket losses, as well as compensation for your pain and suffering.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle collision that was caused by a drunk driver, being represented by an experienced lawyer in your personal injury case is one of the most important steps that you can take on your road to recovery. A compassionate Atlanta drunk driving accident lawyer can assist you by investigating your accident, obtaining a copy of all of the relevant medical documentation, and making a claim for damages on your behalf.
In the event the insurance company does not offer you favorable compensation, a lawyer can litigate your case by filing a complaint against the drunk driver and/or any other negligent party in the court system. Finally, a lawyer can assist you throughout the litigation process and, if necessary, take your case to trial or alternative dispute resolution. A lawyer’s primary goal is to help you pursue the greatest amount of compensation possible for the injuries and medical treatments that you were forced to endure.
If You Suffered Injuries in an Accident with a Drunk Driver, Consult an Atlanta Drunk-Driving Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible
The lawyers of Brauns Law routinely represent clients who are injured in accidents with drunk drivers. They are ready to assist you with your situation.
If a drunk driver caused you injuries, contact us (404) 205-8614, or through our online contact form.