According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one person was killed in a drunk driving accident every 50 minutes somewhere in the United States in recent years. Put another way, on a national level, approximately 10,511 people died in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes in just one year.
Various studies also show that even relatively low blood alcohol levels (as little as 0.02 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC), to be exact) can have severe negative impacts on a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely and carefully.
There is no disputing that alcohol can cause serious impairment of a person’s ability to drive. Depending on the exact amount that a driver consumes, alcohol can cause a driver to experience blurry vision, preventing them from operating a motor vehicle safely. In addition, alcohol can severely limit a driver’s reaction time and prevent them from slowing down or stopping in time to avoid colliding with a person or vehicle.
Just because a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is under the legal limit does not mean that they are not a danger to other drivers and pedestrians who are on or near the roadway. In fact, buzzed driving is drunk driving.
Buzzed drivers frequently present serious hazards to other motor vehicle operators, their passengers, as well as bystanders and pedestrians. Whenever a buzzed driver causes a collision with another motor vehicle or a pedestrian, the driver can bring about serious and sometimes fatal injuries and damages. If you or a person you love sustained an injury in a drunk driving accident, retain experienced legal counsel to represent you and your legal interests as soon as possible.
A DUI accident lawyer can begin an investigation into the cause and circumstances behind your accident. If the accident was, in fact, caused by a buzzed or drunk driver, your attorney could bring a claim against the at-fault driver or that driver’s motor vehicle insurance company, seeking the monetary compensation that you deserve for the injuries that you suffered in your accident. If the insurance company is unwilling to offer you the fair and equitable compensation that you deserve, your drunk driving accident attorney could file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, seeking money damages.
What Is Drunk Driving?
The laws pertaining to driving under the influence (or DUI) in each state preclude drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher from having actual physical control over a vehicle. Stricter DUI standards apply to special classifications of drivers. For example, professional drivers, such as commercial truck drivers, may not have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or higher when they are operating their vehicles. If the motor vehicle operator is under 21 years of age, the driver cannot have a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher.
A person could also engage in drunk driving if a police officer determines that they are under the influence of a drug, alcohol, on controlled substances, based upon various observations. Similarly, a person engages in drunk driving if any amount of illegal drugs, such as marijuana, is found in the driver’s urine or blood as determined by chemical testing.
What Is Buzzed Driving?
While it is true that drunk driving can lead to very serious accidents and injuries, the same is also true for so-called buzzed driving. In fact, buzzed driving really is just a minor form of drunk driving, even though it is not always illegal in the strictest sense.
Generally speaking, the meaning of buzzed driving is operating a motor vehicle while having a blood alcohol concentration somewhere between 0.01 percent and 0.07 percent for ordinary drivers. Again, the law holds commercial motor vehicle operators and drivers who are under 21 years of age to stricter standards.
Even when a driver does not have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher, their faculties and sensory abilities might still be impaired. For example, the driver might still experience blurry vision and may not react in time to avoid colliding with another motor vehicle or a stationary object on the side of the road.
Even when a driver engages in buzzed driving, the driver could still bring about a serious collision that results in traumatic injuries to the accident victim. Therefore, if you experienced a motor vehicle collision with a buzzed driver, you might still be eligible to file a claim or lawsuit against the driver seeking monetary compensation and damages. A knowledgeable drunk driving accident attorney near you can review the circumstances of your accident, determine if you have a viable case, and assist you with filing your claim or lawsuit against all potentially responsible parties.
What Are the Potential Consequences of a Buzzed Driving Car Accident?
Buzzed driving and drunk driving can lead to very serious accidents and injuries to other motor vehicle operators, their passengers, and pedestrians who might be walking or standing by the side of the road. In many instances, buzzed driving accidents occur at high rates of speed, which can make the accident and the resulting injuries all the more serious for accident victims.
Buzzed driving accidents can lead to various traumatic injuries, including:
- Bone fractures
- Traumatic brain and head injuries
- Back injuries
- Spinal injuries and paralysis
- Soft tissue injuries
- Internal injuries
In cases where a buzzed or drunk driver collides with a pedestrian, the injuries can be especially serious. The severity of these injuries is because pedestrians, unlike motor vehicle drivers and passengers, do not have a protective shell or covering surrounding their bodies. Therefore, when a motor vehicle collides with them, they could fall to the ground (or slide under the vehicle), causing potentially fatal injuries in the process.
If you or someone you care about has suffered one or more of these injuries in a buzzed driving accident, you should seek qualified legal representation in your case as soon as possible. A knowledgeable and experienced DUI accident attorney near you could assist with filing your claim or bringing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for damages.
Potential Civil and Criminal Penalties for a Buzzed or Drunk Driver
When a motor vehicle driver operates their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, authorities might arrest the driver, and the state can issue charges of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI).
Upon conviction, the driver could face various court-ordered criminal penalties. Those penalties may include large monetary fines, jail time, probation, and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device on the vehicle. A judge will typically set these penalties based on the circumstances and in accordance with the prevailing statutory guidelines. If a motor vehicle operator is a subsequent DUI offender, then the judge could enhance these potential penalties even further.
A civil suit could name a buzzed or drunk driver who causes a motor vehicle collision in addition to the criminal penalties. An accident victim injured in a buzzed driving crash could file an insurance claim or lawsuit against the driver and the driver’s insurance company, seeking financial recovery for all of the injuries and losses they suffered because of the crash.
An experienced drunk driving accident lawyer could assist you with filing the proper claims – or lawsuits, when needed – against the driver responsible for your buzzed driving accident.
Filing a Claim or Lawsuit Against the Buzzed Driver Who Caused Your Accident
When it comes to buzzed driving, drunk driving, and other types of motor vehicle collisions, many states, including Georgia, are fault-based states. This means that when a victim suffers injuries in a motor vehicle accident caused by someone else’s carelessness, recklessness, or negligence, the accident victim could file a claim directly against the at-fault driver or the at-fault driver’s motor vehicle insurance company.
In many instances when it is clear that an accident happened because of buzzed or drunk driving, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will admit liability in the case. In other words, the insurance company will admit that their driver was at fault.
Even if the insurance company admits liability, however, the accident victim must still show that they suffered one or more injuries in the accident and that these injuries were a direct and proximate result of the accident. Therefore, the accident must have been at least one cause of the injury or injuries that the accident victim claims they suffered.
The claims process typically begins when the accident victim submits a demand package to the insurance company adjuster for the at-fault driver. The adjuster will typically review the demand package (which includes copies of all related medical records, medical bills, photographs, and police reports) and will decide whether or not to accept liability for the accident.
If the insurance company decides to accept liability, which it often does when a buzzed or drunk driver clearly caused the accident, the adjuster will typically make an offer to settle the case. In cases when the buzzed driving accident resulted in a fatality, the insurance company may offer up the limits of the available insurance policy. The same is true if the accident resulted in extremely serious or permanent injuries, such as some type of paralysis that the accident victim claims they suffered.
When it comes to the at-fault driver’s insurance company, it is important to undertake negotiations with the adjuster. In many instances, the initial offer made by the insurance company is not the top and final offer on the case. In fact, insurance companies have a strong incentive to undervalue cases in an attempt to save themselves as much money as possible. Such instances are where an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer can come in handy.
A lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and work to pursue a favorable settlement offer that truly compensates you for your injuries, damages, and everything else that you went through during and after your accident. If the insurance company refuses to offer you the compensation that you deserve, your lawyer can always file a lawsuit in the state civil court system on your behalf, seeking damages for your injuries.
What Types of Financial Recovery Are Available to Accident Victims Following a Buzzed Driving Accident?
For the victim of a drunk driving accident to be in a position to recover monetary compensation, the accident victim must satisfy all of the legal elements of their case. Assuming the accident victim can do that, then they could recover monetary compensation in the form of damages. For example, the accident victim could pursue monetary compensation for all of the medical bills they had to incur following the accident. These bills may be related to medical treatment or a medical procedure following the accident, such as surgery or injection.
In addition to these medical costs, the accident victim might recoup any wages lost from not working following the buzzed driving accident. The accident victim could also pursue other out-of-pocket costs incurred following the accident.
In addition to these economic expenses, accident victims could claim non-economic damages. These damages are in place to compensate accident victims for all of the pain, suffering, inconvenience, emotional distress, and mental anguish that they had to endure following the accident and their injuries.
In buzzed and drunk driving accident cases, the accident victim might also be in a position to claim punitive damages. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the wrongdoer. In the case of buzzed and drunk driving accidents, this individual is the at-fault driver who caused the accident. Another purpose of punitive damages is to discourage future drivers from engaging in similar reckless and egregious activities while behind the wheel of a car.
A knowledgeable DUI accident attorney can assist you with proving your drunk driving accident and injury claim and pursuing the economic and non-economic damages that you deserve because of your injuries. Contact Brauns Law, PC for more legal advice.