Drunk Driving Accidents and Injuries
Car accidents are a leading cause of death; drunk driving is a leading cause of car accidents. In Alabama, the problem is especially grave, as there were more than 3,100 people killed in drunk driving accidents from 2003-2012, as reported by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The same source indicates that the rate of alcohol-related crash deaths in Alabama is higher than in the national average, although the rate of drivers who report driving after drinking too much at least once in the past 30 days is slightly less than the national average (1.7 percent compared to 1.9 percent).
Drunk driving is illegal, and dangerous, and when a drunk driver causes a crash that leaves another person with property damage or injuries, the drunk driver may not only be held criminally liable, but civilly too. This means that the injured party can file a civil lawsuit against the drunk driver to recover compensation for their losses.
Injuries Caused by Drunk Driving Accidents
When a driver is alcohol-impaired, their ability to react quickly, to make rational decisions, to concentrate and focus, and sometimes to even keep their eyes open is severely impaired. The result can be swerving, traveling into the lane of oncoming traffic, excessively speeding, or failing to stop if another person or object enters the road, amongst other dangerous behaviors. The result of these actions can be absolutely catastrophic. The injuries that a party hit by a drunk driver may incur include:
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Back and neck injuries;
- Bone fractures;
- Internal injuries;
- Facial injuries; and
- Injuries to the extremities.
It is important to note that all of these injuries can be very painful, require intensive medical care (which can also be painful, not to mention expensive), and have lifelong consequences for the victim. In fact, a person who is involved in a drunk driving accident may never be able to fulfill their dreams, and may have to sacrifice educational and employment opportunities as a result of their injuries.
How to Hold a Drunk Driver Liable for Harm
Alabama is a tort insurance state, which means that drivers who cause accidents are liable for damages that result. In order to hold a driver liable, you must prove fault. If you can prove that your injuries would not have occurred but for the fault of the drunk driver, you can recover compensation for the full extent of your:
- Economic losses, which include present and future medical expenses and property damage related to the crash;
- Noneconomic losses, such as the value of your pain and suffering; and
- Punitive damages, which may be available if you can prove that the defendant deliberately engaged in wantonness.
Proving fault can be complicated, but in a drunk driving case, you may have evidence available to you, such as the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) results of the drunk driver. Keep in mind that a driver commits a DUI crime when they have a BAC of .08 percent or above, but a driver can be held civilly liable even if their BAC was not at or above the legal limit. Remember, in a civil case, you need to prove negligence, not criminal action. If the results of a BAC test are not available, you can use witness testimony, video footage, accident reconstruction data, black box data, physical evidence, police reports, and more to prove the fault of the drunk driver.
Our Attorneys Are Here to Help You Get the Compensation Award You Deserve
When you are involved in an accident with a drunk driver, you deserve to be fully compensated for your losses. We believe that a serious accident deserves a serious lawyer, which is why we urge you to call our Alabama drunk driving accident attorneys if you’ve been harmed. Our attorneys will investigate your case, valuate your claim, and work hard to prove fault and damages.
You can reach the law offices of Smith & McGhee, P.C. online or by phone at 334-702-1744. Consultations are offered free of charge.