It does not matter what you call it: driving under the influence, driving while intoxicated, operating under the influence, or drunk driving. When someone drinks and drives, they are not only a danger to themselves but to everyone around them.
DUI accidents tend to be much more serious than other types of accidents due to the recklessness and unpredictability of a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
But recovering financial compensation after a drunk driving accident can be complicated. Drunk drivers often deny responsibility, and insurance companies may challenge your claim. Having experienced legal representation can make a difference.
Serious wrecks mean serious injuries. So how can a personal injury lawyer help victims of a drunk driving accident?
- The first thing our law firm will do is get a copy of the police incident report. This will provide us with detailed information of the investigating officer's actions at the scene. It will also let us know if a field sobriety test was administered and whether the at-fault driver made any confessions at the scene.
- We order a copy of any video and audio recording that was captured by the investigating officer's body cam or dash cam at the scene.
- Then we request a copy of the blood alcohol results and run a search to see if the defendant had any previous DUI arrests.
While we gather evidence from the crime scene, we also investigate all potential defendants and ask the following questions:
- Was the drunk driver operating their own vehicle or driving a vehicle owned by another person?
- Did the person that loaned the vehicle know or should they have known that the driver was impaired by alcohol when they allowed them to use it?
- Was the drunk driver known to be habitually reckless and dangerous due to past DUI charges or dangerous driving behaviors?
- Was the drunk driver on the job when the collision occurred?
Seeking Compensatory Damages
Full compensation could include reimbursement for economic losses, such as medical bills, prescription charges, lost wages, etc., and for non-economic damages, like pain and suffering and emotional suffering.
Besides the drunk driver, there are other potential avenues we can investigate to seek compensation.
Georgia Dram Shop Liability Law
Most states, including Georgia, have "Dram Shop" laws. These laws put potential liability upon an establishment like a bar, restaurant, liquor store, or pub if they serve alcohol to someone who is underage and/or visibly intoxicated and that person causes a collision after leaving the business.
Dram shop laws encourage business owners to enforce underage drinking restrictions and keep intoxicated customers from becoming drunk drivers. The business can either stop serving someone that is clearly intoxicated or make sure that the person does not attempt to drive upon leaving.
If, however, our personal injury attorneys discover the defendant was underage and got drunk at a sports bar, for example, we would pursue a claim against that bar for providing alcohol to an underage person, as well as alleging they served someone who was noticeably intoxicated knowing that they would soon operate a motor vehicle.
Investigating Other Negligent Parties
A social host is someone who provides or allows alcohol to be consumed in their home or at a party they are hosting. The host assumes a responsibility similar to that of a business owner if that impaired driver leaves their party and causes a wreck. It is the responsibility of the host to ensure that none of their impaired guests attempt to drive when leaving the party.
Investigating All Potential Insurance Coverages
As experienced attorneys, we will work to locate ALL available insurance policies to provide coverage to you or anyone else injured in the wreck. This could include all the policies covering the at-fault person, as well as policies you or a resident relative may own that could be a source of additional funds to pay for medical expenses or lost wages.
We look to see if the injured victim's own insurance policies provide med-pay coverage (it's like health insurance for anyone in their vehicle). This med-pay policy could help pay some of the medical bills up to the limits of the coverage.
We also check to see if the victim has any policies for uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage.
Filing a Claim for Punitive Damages
After a car wreck with a drunk driver, an attorney called a "solicitor" or "prosecutor" will be involved on behalf of the state, county, city, or municipality in order to prosecute the drunk driver for their criminal actions. This attorney may contact you to learn more about the wreck and your injuries.
This information will be used by the judge, along with many other factors, to determine the severity of the punishment. However, the job of the solicitor or prosecutor is only related to the criminal aspect of the DUI case.
In addition to DUI charges, Georgia law allows punitive damages to be brought against the defendant as an additional form of punishment in the civil arena.
Punitive damages are intended to punish drunk drivers for their negligent conduct and hopefully deter them from repeating the behavior in the future. Drunk driving, street racing, and fleeing the scene of an accident are just a few situations where most states will allow you to seek punitive damages against the at-fault driver.
Contact Gary Martin Hays & Associates for Help
The sad reality is that our accident attorneys have sat at the conference room table too many times with family members who have lost a loved one because of an impaired driver. These horrific tragedies keep happening because a driver decided to get behind the wheel of their car after having too many drinks.
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed by a drunk driver, please give us a call right away to discuss your potential case.
Call (770) 934-8000 or contact us online for a free consultation. It's completely confidential, and there is no obligation.
Please don't delay. Evidence could be destroyed because it is not pursued in a timely fashion. Video or audio recordings may not be preserved unless we can quickly ask for a copy of these items.
Don't let a drunk driver get away with their negligence, and don't let the insurance company deny your DUI insurance claim.
Let us help get you the justice and compensation you deserve to put your life back together.