How a Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuit Happens?
A drunk driving lawsuit occurs as the result of an accident where you or your loved one is injured. It could result from a drunk driving accident that resulted in damaged property such as damage to your vehicle or motorcycle.
The Consequences of a Drunk Driving Accident?
A drunk driving accident has many consequences for a victim. The victim may sustain serious, life-threatening injuries. They can also sustain property damage to their motor vehicle. The court looks at the consequences in the form of damages. These damages include, but are not limited to:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Physical therapy
- Pain and suffering
- Property damages
- Funeral and burial expenses (if a victim died in a drunk driving accident).
Driving is a privilege, not a right. When a defendant gets behind the wheel, they must be responsible. Drinking and driving is not a responsible action. What’s worse is that their poor decision-making caused harm to you and/or your loved one. To understand more about your legal rights in a car accident, contact a personal injury lawyer who specializes in drunk driving accidents.
Who is Liable in a Drunk Driving Accident?
According to Georgia law, any driver who causes an accident while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or another substance is negligent and liable in civil court. In civil court, negligence refers to a driver not doing what another driver would in similar and/or the same circumstances. For example, the defendant operated a motor vehicle while impaired.
Another driver would not operate a motor vehicle while impaired. Thus, the defendant would be negligent for all injuries and damage caused in the accident. This means that you can sue the driver in civil court to recover money damages for the losses you’ve suffered because of the accident.
Typically, a plaintiff will file a lawsuit against a drunk driver because they were negligent and caused the accident. However, your drunk driving accident lawsuit may involve third party liability. Third party liability involves providing alcohol to someone who is obviously drunk. For example, bars and nightclubs can be sued if they provide an individual who is obviously drunk more alcohol. A person who hosts a party and doesn’t exercise due care to prevent an obviously drunk person from obtaining more alcohol at the party can be liable too. This is considered the Dram Shop Rule.
What Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents Do?
If you’re injured in a drunk driving accident, Georgia law allows you to file a lawsuit to recover damages. Georgia law also requires you to prove that you were injured and that the defendant owes you money. Proving a drunk driving accident occurred requires four steps, or elements. Each element is proven separately. If any step isn’t proven, a plaintiff could lose their case.
These elements are:
- Legal Duty: Legal duty is the responsibility a driver has to operate a motor vehicle without causing harm to people or damage to property. Drivers accept this legal responsibility every time they sit behind the wheel of a vehicle. However, you must prove the defendant had a legal duty to protect you from harm while driving.
- Breach of Legal Duty: Once legal duty is established, you must prove that the defendant violated the duty. This simply means that they caused the accident. It doesn’t mean that they caused your injuries. The court requires you to prove that occurred in the next element.
- Causation: A drunk driver can cause a car accident, but not cause your injuries. Thus, the court requires you to show how the defendant caused your injuries during the drunk driving accident. How you prove this element depends on the facts of the case. The defendant could have directly caused the accident. This means that they crashed their vehicle into yours or hit you while you walked. They could be the indirect cause of the accident. For example, they crashed into another vehicle and that vehicle hit you. Your attorney can explain more about causation.
- Damages. The court requires you to prove that you sustained damages to receive money from the defendant. This can be done in two ways. You show economic damages such as medical bills, lost wages and car repair bills. You can also show non-economic damages such as mental anguish and pain and suffering. The latter is not easily calculated. Thus, you’ll need the help of a drunk driving accident lawyer to calculate pain and suffering.
No personal injury case is simple. You were injured. If the defendant is convicted of drunk driving, it is easier to prove your case. However, most plaintiffs can’t afford to wait until the criminal case is resolved to pursue a lawsuit. Contact a drunk driving attorney to understand more about proving your case.
How Lawyers can Help Drunk Driving Accident Victims Get the Compensation They Deserve?
An experienced personal injury attorney is vital to any drunk driving accident case. Attorneys protect your legal rights and take the necessary steps to represent your interests. In fact, a drunk driving accident attorney will take a number of steps to make sure that you receive the compensation needed from the defendant. These steps include, but are not limited to:
- Determining if the drunk driver was driving a commercial vehicle. An employee operating a motor vehicle cannot have a blood alcohol concentration at or higher than 0.04 percent. As a plaintiff, you can sue the drunk driver and their employer. Their employer may be negligent because the drunk driver was on the job at the time of the drunk driving accident.
- Making sure the drunk driving accident is fully documented and investigated. Personal injury attorneys are responsible for investigating the drunk driving accident to determine if there are any other defendants, how the accident occurred, and whether there were witnesses.
- File a civil court motion to secure damages on their client’s behalf. In Georgia, you have a limited number of years to sue a drunk driver for the injuries caused during a car accident. This means that your case must be filed by the statute of limitations or you’re barred from recovering damages. That doesn’t mean that you can’t negotiate a settlement during this time. Filing a lawsuit in civil court protects your legal rights to continue your lawsuit.
- Negotiate an out-of-settlement. An out-of-court settlement is a signed agreement between the plaintiff and the defendant. In exchange for a lump sum payment, the plaintiff agrees to dismiss their lawsuit. The agreed settlement is for the damages sustained in the accident.
Drunk Driving Accident Settlement Amounts
There is no absolute average settlement amount for a drunk driving lawsuit since each case is different. It doesn’t matter if a car accident lawsuit is filed because of a drunk driver or a sober driver, each claim is based on specific facts. While our law firm can’t give you an exact settlement amount for your drunk driving lawsuit, these cases usually have higher settlements than a car accident involving a sober driver.
A drunk driving accident settlement amount depends on the following factors:
- The level of severity of injuries sustained by the plaintiff
- The economic damages sustained by the plaintiff
- The degree of comparative fault
In some states, if the victim was negligent in any way, they cannot recover anything in compensation. However, only a handful of states are contributory negligence states. This means that a judge or jury will try to find the percentage of negligence by the victim and adjust the compensation accordingly. For example, if the victim was traveling twenty miles per hour over the speed limit, they may be 25 percent at fault, and their compensation may be reduced accordingly.
Here is a list of drunk driving accident lawsuit settlements:
- $8 million – A woman suffered severe brain damage after her car was rear ended by a drunk driver. She lost her ability to work as a nurse.
- $3.7 million – A woman was paralyzed from the waste down after a drunk driver drove the car she was in off a roadway and fell 25 feet.
- $1.5 million – A couple’s car was sent spinning after it was hit by a drunk driver going over 100 mph. The woman had to undergo shoulder surgery while the man required laser disc decompression.
- $450,000 – One teenager was critically injured and one was killed after a drunk truck driver slammed head-on into their SUV.
Contact The Eichholz Law Firm for Assistance with Your Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuit
Unfortunately, drunk driving accidents happen frequently. That doesn’t mean that you must suffer the harsh consequences such as pain and suffering because of a drunk driver’s negligent actions.
Contact the car accident lawyers at the Eichholz Law Firm for help with your drunk driving accident case. Every drunk driving accident lawsuit is different. Each case involves different types of damages. We pride ourselves on protecting your legal rights and representing your interests. We also work to obtain a favorable outcome in your case.
Call (855)-551-1019 or fill out an online for a free case consultation.
- AllLaw. “Lawsuits Against Drunk Drivers Who Cause Car Accidents”, AllLaw, https://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/auto-accident/lawsuit-drunk-driver-accident.html. Accessed July 12, 2019.
- AllLaw. “What Are Your Legal Options When Hit By a Drunk Driver?”, AllLaw, https://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/auto-accident/hit-by-drunk-driver-legal-options.html. Accessed July 12, 2019.
- FindLaw. “Hit By a Drunk Driver: Settlement Basics”, FindLaw, https://injury.findlaw.com/car-accidents/hit-by-a-drunk-driver-settlement-basics.html. Accessed July 12, 2019.