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What Should I Do After a Phoenix Drunk Driving Accident Injures Me?

Locals and tourists alike often head to Downtown Phoenix, Arizona, to visit the many bars and nightclubs in that area. However, when drivers choose to get behind the wheel of a car or truck after having too much to drink, they put the lives of all other motor vehicle drivers on the roadway at risk.

No matter whether the intoxicated driver is in Downtown Phoenix or driving on an interstate highway, such as I-40, I-410, I-510, or I-710, the driver can potentially do a lot of damage. Also, since drunk driving accidents very often happen at high rates of speed, accident victims can suffer serious and debilitating injuries that require significant medical treatment and attention.

If you have suffered an injury in a Phoenix motor vehicle collision that a drunk driver caused, you have legal options that are open and available to you. A knowledgeable Phoenix drunk driving accident lawyer can assist you with filing a claim against the drunk driver’s insurance company that seeks monetary compensation and damages.

Your attorney can also assist you with negotiating a favorable settlement offer to resolve your case favorably, and if necessary, filing a lawsuit and litigating your case in the Arizona court system. Your lawyer can explain all of your options to you in clear and easy-to-understand terms, allowing you to make an informed decision that will have the best chance of success in your case.

Legal Standard for Drunk Driving in Arizona

Because of the dangers associated with operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, a person who is found guilty or convicted of this offense can be subject to various criminal penalties, ranging from fines and a period of license suspension to jail time.

In Arizona, the law considers a person who has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher to be under the influence of alcohol per se. Even when a driver has a lower BAC, alcohol can still impair them to the extent that it would be unsafe to operate a motor vehicle.

Regulatory agencies hold commercial motor vehicle operators and others to a higher standard of care than ordinary drivers. Commercial operators—including the operators of large trucks, tractor-trailers, and big rigs—drive vehicles for a living. Therefore, they owe the public a higher duty of care while they are on the road.

The BAC cutoff for commercial drivers in Arizona is 0.04 percent. Minors—or individuals under 21 years of age—are not permitted to have any alcohol whatsoever in their systems while operating a motor vehicle. Thus, there is a zero-tolerance policy in effect for underage drivers.

In a criminal DUI case, prosecutors must satisfy their burden ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ Assuming the prosecutor satisfies his or her legal burden, or if the drunk driver agrees to plead guilty to the drunk driving charge, a judge will be left to sentence the drunk driver to one or more criminal penalties. In addition to these criminal penalties, the drunk driver (and/or the drunk driver’s motor vehicle insurance company) can be subject to a civil claim for damages if the driver caused an accident and one or more people were injured.

If you have suffered an injury in a motor vehicle collision that a drunk driver caused, you may have legal options available. An experienced Phoenix drunk driving accident attorney can explain to you what those options are and can assist you throughout the claims-filing and litigation processes. Your lawyer will do everything possible to help you pursue all of the monetary compensation that you deserve for your injuries.

How Alcohol Intoxication Impairs a Driver’s Abilities

Alcohol intoxication can significantly impact an accident victim’s sensory abilities, including the ability to operate a motor vehicle carefully and safely while out on the roadway. First of all, being under the influence of alcohol or drugs can slow down a driver’s reaction time. For example, the driver may not react to an emergency and slow his/her vehicle down in time to avoid colliding with another motor vehicle. Alcohol intoxication can also impair a driver’s vision, making it blurry. Finally, alcohol intoxication can significantly impair a driver’s judgment while operating a vehicle on the road.

If a drunk driver caused your motor vehicle accident and injuries, you might be eligible for monetary compensation. A Phoenix drunk driving accident lawyer can assist you with taking legal action against the drunk driver and filing a claim against the drunk driver’s insurance company for monetary compensation and damages.

Common Motor Vehicle Accidents that Drunk Drivers cause

Motor vehicle operators who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs can speed, careen out of control, cross a centerline, or drive off the road. Any of these maneuvers can lead to a serious accident that causes other drivers and passengers to suffer serious injuries. Some of the most common types of motor vehicle accidents that drunk drivers cause include the following:

Head-on Collisions

A head-on collision occurs when the front of one motor vehicle forcefully strikes the front of an oncoming motor vehicle, often leading to serious and sometimes fatal injuries. These accidents sometimes happen when a drunk driver veers or careens out of his or her lane—and into the path of an oncoming motor vehicle.

Sideswipe Collisions

A sideswipe collision occurs when one vehicle brushes against the side of another vehicle, frequently on a busy multi-lane highway. When a driver is severely intoxicated, he or she can lose control of the car, or the driver’s blurry vision might cause the vehicle to drift inadvertently into another lane of travel, causing a collision.

Rear-end Accidents

In a rear-end-type accident, the front of one vehicle strikes the rear of another vehicle. These vehicles are common at traffic intersections, but they can also occur on busy highways and other roadways. When a driver is intoxicated, he or she might be driving too fast. When that happens, the drunk driver might not stop the vehicle in time to avoid a collision.

T-bone Accidents

In a typical T-bone accident, the front of one vehicle forcefully strikes the side of another vehicle. This can cause the vehicle to spin around 360 degrees in the middle of the roadway, or the vehicle can overturn. These accidents sometimes occur when drunk drivers lose control of their vehicles near an intersection—or try to run a red light or stop sign—striking a vehicle that is moving in a perpendicular direction.

If you have suffered an injury in one of these types of motor vehicle accidents that a drugged or intoxicated driver caused, a knowledgeable Phoenix drunk driving accident attorney can help. Your lawyer can meet with you to discuss the accident, and if necessary, get an accident reconstructionist on board in your case. Once your lawyer confirms that you are eligible to bring a case, he or she can file a personal injury claim or lawsuit on your behalf that seeks monetary compensation for your injuries and other damages.

Drunk Driving Accident Injuries

It is very common for drunk driving accidents in Phoenix to occur totally out of the blue and with significant force. When these accidents happen, drivers and passengers can suffer extremely serious, debilitating, and sometimes fatal injuries.

At the point of impact, the impact can move the driver or passenger’s body around and about the interior of the vehicle and may even strike something in the vehicle, such as the headrest, front console, dashboard, window, or steering wheel, resulting in one or more serious injuries. Some of the most common injuries that victims of Phoenix drunk driving accidents suffer can include spinal cord injuries, soft tissue injuries, traumatic head or brain injuries, and bone fractures.

When a driver or passenger suffers one or more of these injuries, he or she may need to seek extensive medical treatment, resulting in mounting medical bills. For example, the accident victim will typically need to seek care at a hospital emergency room immediately following the accident. After this initial treatment, the drunk driving accident victim may need to follow up with an orthopedist or other specialist, along with a primary care doctor. In addition, the accident victim may need to undergo surgery or other medical procedure, most especially if he or she suffered a broken bone in the accident.

Finally, the accident victim may need to attend physical therapy appointments and do home therapy exercises to fully recover from his or her injuries. Fortunately, all related medical treatment that you undergo following your drunk driving accident is compensable as part of a personal injury claim or lawsuit that you file.

If you or a person you love has suffered an injury in a motor vehicle collision that a drunk driver caused, a Phoenix drunk driving accident lawyer can assist. Your lawyer can focus his or her attention on getting you compensated for the injuries you suffered in your accident. If the drunk driver’s insurance company is not willing to offer you sufficient compensation, you have the option of filing a lawsuit and litigating the case in the Arizona state court system.

Proving a Phoenix Drunk Driving Accident Case

Victims of drunk driving accidents in Phoenix have the legal burden of proof in any personal injury case that they file. Under most circumstances, accident victims must demonstrate that another driver behaved unreasonably and irresponsibly, resulting in a motor vehicle collision. Car accident victims also need to demonstrate that they suffered one or more injuries in the accident and that these injuries came about as a result of the accident.

In some drunk driving motor vehicle accident cases, the drunk driver’s insurance company will admit or stipulate liability in the accident. This means that the insurance company is admitting fault on the part of the drunk driver. However, even if there is a stipulation as to liability, the accident victim will still need to demonstrate that he or she suffered an injury and that the injury occurred because of the accident.

A knowledgeable Phoenix drunk driving accident attorney can help you prove the legal elements of your claim for your case to succeed. Your attorney can then pursue monetary compensation for the injuries and damages that you suffered in your accident.

Recovering Monetary Compensation From a Drunk Driving Accident Claim in Phoenix

Victims of drunk driving accidents can suffer an injury in a variety of ways. Depending upon the severity of those injuries, the medical treatment received, and whether or not the injuries were permanent, an accident victim can recover monetary compensation.

Some of the most important types of monetary compensation that a drunk driving accident victim can recover include the costs of medical bills and replacement lost wages. Accident victims can also pursue compensation for any related out-of-pocket costs and expenses.

In addition, victims of serious motor vehicle collisions caused by a drunk driver can receive compensation for emotional distress, mental anguish, pain and suffering, inconvenience, and permanency.

A knowledgeable Phoenix drunk driving accident attorney can pursue these types of monetary compensation, along with other possible damages, on your behalf. Your lawyer will first attempt to recover these items of damage by way of a favorable monetary settlement.

However, suppose the insurance company is being difficult and refuses to offer you sufficient compensation. In that case, your attorney can file a lawsuit and litigate the case in the Arizona state court system to a favorable conclusion.

Call an Experienced Phoenix Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Today

Phoenix Auto Injury Lawyer Dave Abels
Dave Abels, Phoenix Car Accident Lawyer

If you have suffered an injury in a motor vehicle collision that a drunk driver caused, reach out to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Drunk driving accident victims only have a limited period following their accidents to pursue a personal injury claim or lawsuit.

A skilled Phoenix drunk driving accident attorney can file a claim or lawsuit on your behalf in a timely and efficient manner, pursue a monetary settlement, and, if necessary, litigate your case in court to a favorable conclusion.

Phoenix Office
714 E Rose Ln
#200
Phoenix, AZ 85014

Toll Free: (855) 749-5299
Local: (602) 819-5191
Fax: (602) 819-4841

 

An Illinois Medical Marijuana Card Is Not a License to Drive High

Driving While High is Still a Crime in Illinois

Medical marijuana became legal in the State of Illinois on January 1, 2014. However, it is important to note that Illinois law applies strict regulations for using medical marijuana, especially when it comes to driving under the influence of marijuana.

Driving while drunk or drugged can significantly alter the driver’s perceptions and reaction times, leading to serious accidents and catastrophic injuries. If you have sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident caused by a drugged driver, a lawyer can determine whether or not you are eligible to recover monetary compensation. The personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. may be able to represent you in your case and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

Driving While Under the Influence of Medical Marijuana in Illinois

While an individual with trace amounts of medical marijuana technically can drive, it is best not to do so. Specifically, a medical marijuana card does not prevent the police from arresting the driver for operating the vehicle in a reckless or careless manner.

If a driver is operating their vehicle recklessly with marijuana in his or her system, Illinois DUI laws will still apply. Illinois had adopted a set of roadside tests designed to determine if the driver is impaired by marijuana, as well as threshold limits for blood and saliva levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Drivers who need to be taken somewhere while they are still under the influence of their marijuana prescription should consider letting a friend or neighbor drive them, or grabbing an Uber or Lyft. Another option is to take public transportation.

Medical Marijuana DUIs in Chicago

Chicago and the whole State of Illinois considers a medical marijuana card an automatic authorization to submit to field sobriety testing. If the officer reasonably believes that the driver is impaired, the test will go forward. If the driver refuses, the State may suspend or revoke the driver’s license. Moreover, if the State suspects that the cause of the DUI was medical marijuana, the State can prosecute the driver under the State’s normal DUI laws.

A police officer is also allowed to testify against the offending driver in court – and to confirm the driver’s level of impairment at the time the driver was pulled over. The offending driver may also be subject to the State’s reckless driving laws, and a conviction can result in criminal fines or penalties.

Reckless Driving while Driving on Marijuana

Drugs, including medical marijuana, can seriously impact a driver’s abilities while behind the wheel of a car. Drugs and alcohol can cause blurry vision and may also affect a person’s perception – including depth perception – while on the roadway. Other common symptoms associated with drugged driving include bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, slurred speech, and a dazed look.

Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs can result in collisions with roadway objects, including guardrails, walls, or buildings. Pedestrian collisions are also possible, as are collisions with other motor vehicles on the roadway.

Proving Reckless or Impaired Driving in Illinois

Reckless driving is one form of negligent driving. In reckless driving cases, the injured accident victim has the burden of proving negligence and damages. The injured accident victim must be able to show that, as a result of the presence of drugs in the driver’s system, the driver operated a vehicle in a careless or reckless manner. A driver must ordinarily operate a motor vehicle as a “reasonable” driver would under the same or similar circumstances.

Arguably, if the driver operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, including medical marijuana, it violates the “reasonable person” standard of care. This is because an impaired driver poses a potential hazard to all other motor vehicle drivers on the roadway at that time.

The injured accident victim must also be able to show that the impaired driver’s violation of the standard of care directly resulted in certain injuries and damages. Available damages may include both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those types of damages that can readily be calculated in dollars and cents – such as medical bills and lost wages. On the other hand, non-economic damages, such as pain, suffering, inconvenience, and permanency, are more subjective and do not have a hard-and-fast number associated with them.

What should I do if a person who was high or on drugs caused my car accident?

If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident and suspect that the other driver was impaired by medical marijuana, there are several steps you can take. Immediately call the police and tell them that you were involved in an accident with a suspected drugged driver. When the police officer arrives on-scene, he or she may be able to administer the necessary tests and should also be able to compose a police report or incident report.

Moreover, if you have sustained an injury in the accident, it is best to travel in an ambulance to the nearest hospital. In the alternative, you should have someone drive you to an emergency room or urgent care facility. You should seek emergency medical care even if you do not believe that you sustained a serious injury in the accident. This is because many injuries do not come to light immediately, and it is usually best to have a medical professional diagnose your condition.

Contact a Chicago, Illinois Personal Injury Lawyer Today to Discuss the Facts and Circumstances of Your Case

Even though a driver may carry a medical marijuana card, that driver can still cause an accident if he or she drives while impaired. Motor vehicle accidents can produce serious injuries and damages, including soft tissue injuries, fractures, spinal cord injuries, head injuries, and even death.

10 Disturbing Drunk Driving Accident Statistics

Drunk Drivers Can Cause Serious Injuries on Chicago Roads

A drunk driving accident is a tragic event that Mothers Against Drunk Driving calls the “most frequently committed violent crime in America”. It seems that each new day brings another disturbing news story about the repercussions of getting behind the wheel after a few drinks. Drunk driving statistics help illustrate just how prevalent drunk driving accidents are in Chicago and across the US; but they also demonstrate how a drunk driver can cause injuries that could affect a DUI accident victim for the rest of their life.

1. Drunk Driving Occurs Way Too Often

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults consume too much alcohol and get behind the wheel about 112 million times a year. This adds up to nearly 300,000 incidents of drinking and driving each day.

A study by the American Addiction Centers asked people why they decided to drink and drive.

The study attempted to show why people choose to get behind the wheel after having consumed too much alcohol. The reasons they gave were:

  • Felt okay to drive (29.8%)
  • Destination was close by (10%)
  • Didn’t have another way home (4%)
  • Uber wait times were too long (2%)
  • Felt comfortable getting home (1.8%)
  • Didn’t think they would get caught (1.7%)
  • No traffic on the road (1%)
  • Other or no reason (49.7%)

Why People Get Behind the Wheel while Drunk - Abels and Annes Chicago Car Accident Personal Injury Attorneys

Out of all the survey responses, the most common answer was the person “felt okay to drive” or didn’t think their destination was far enough away to justify some other form of transportation.

Based on the number of people that decide to drive after drinking alcohol, it is clear that some people believe that they’re immune from getting hurt or hurting others while intoxicated. And some even believe that they have the ability to “drive better” when they are drunk. Studies have shown that this is especially true in younger people.

This leads to the next drunk driving statistic that looks at how DUI affects people under the age of 21.

2. Young People are Dying Because of DUI

One in every 7 drivers killed in a drunk driving accident in 2008 was under the age of 21 (and thus not even old enough to drink).

Drunk driving while under the legal drinking age is incredibly dangerous, as young people are more impulsive, get drunk faster, and are less experienced behind the wheel of a car.

A teen who’s had one alcoholic beverage and gets behind the wheel of a car is considered a drunk driver, as Illinois law states that any blood alcohol concentration over .01% for people under the age of 21 is illegal.

Young people ages 16-20 are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more compared to when they haven’t been drinking at all.

While the percentage of teens in high school who drink has gone down by more than half since 1991, teen drinking and driving is still a huge problem. In fact, 1 in every 10 high school students admits to drinking and driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the highest percentage of drunk drivers were those ages 21 to 24 (34%), followed by ages 25 to 34 (30%) and 35 to 44 (25%).

3. The Financial Cost of Drunk Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined that these accidents cost the United States $132 billion a year and costs each adult in this country almost $500 per year.

The $114.3 billion a year includes:

  • $51.1 billion in monetary costs
  • $63.2 billion in life losses

Drunk driving can also cost the individual driver thousands of dollars in court fees, class programs, jail costs, sobriety programs, and license reinstatement fees after a driving under the influence charge.

The first-time penalty for a drunk driver is up to 1 year of jail time, up to $2,500 in fines, and a minimum license suspension of one year. A first DUI is considered a Class A misdemeanor, and that’s only if no one was injured. If drunk driving results in bodily harm, it may be classified as a felony.

A second DUI offense will also lead to jail time and fines, but a longer license suspension of five years.

It’s important to note that there is no “look back” period in the state of Illinois. It doesn’t matter when the first DUI occurred, it could have been over a decade ago. Regardless of when the first offense happened, the second offense penalties still apply.

In other words, even if you don’t ruin someone’s life or kill them, drinking and driving could still cost tons of money just in fees and fines. That doesn’t even consider potential lost wages from losing a job and other unexpected costs related to a drunk driving incident.

4. Children are Dying in DUI Accidents

More than 200 children are killed in drunk driving crashes each year. Out of those deaths, 62% were riding with the drunk driver while the other 38% were in a car that was struck by a drunk driver.

Children being injured in car accidents, whether it is from alcohol or not, is simply not okay. From 2000 to 2009, 2,469 children under the age of 15 were killed as passengers in vehicles with a drunk driver.

When a child is in a car with a drunk driver, the adult driving is guilty of child endangerment. The adult is not only endangering themselves and everyone else on the road, but also their own child.

A young child cannot tell whether their parent or guardian is drunk, and even if they could, they likely don’t have a choice on whether or not they have to get in the car.

Because of this lack of choice that children have, and because their lives are endangered by drunk drivers, further fines and penalties may be placed upon a drunk driver who has a kid in the car.

In Illinois, it is still considered a misdemeanor to drive drunk with a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle. If there is bodily harm to the child, it increases to a felony.

5. Lots of People Drive Drunk on Weekend Nights

An estimated 1 in 7 nighttime weekend drivers are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The highest number of drunk drivers on the road are between 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.

6. Holidays Are a Popular Time for Drunk Driving

Holidays are one of the most dangerous times of the year because of drunk drivers on the road. Of course, holidays like New Year’s Eve are celebrated with alcohol. But there are some other holidays that produce their fair share of drunk drivers.

The following statistics show how your chances of getting hit by a drunk driver go up depending on the holiday.

During any random 3-day period, your chance of being hit by a drunk driver is 29.2%. The following list shows how that chance goes up depending on the holiday weekend.

  • Memorial Day – 40.3%
  • Independence Day – 38.5%
  • Easter – 37.4%
  • Labor Day – 36.3%
  • New Year’s – 35.8%
  • Thanksgiving – 34.7%
  • Christmas – 30.7%

7. Binge Drinkers tend to be Drunk Drivers

According to the CDC, “binge drinking is the most common, costly, and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States.”

Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration above .08%. For men, it takes about five drinks in two hours to reach this blood alcohol level. And for women, it takes about four drinks in two hours.

One in every ten binge drinkers admitted to driving the last time they consumed 5 or more drinks, according to a 2009 study released by the CDC.

Binge drinking most commonly occurs between people ages 18 to 34. And it is twice as common among men than it is among women.

Over 90% of people who drink excessively admitted to binge drinking in the last thirty days.

8. Drunk Drivers are Not Always Caught

Additionally, according to studies by the CDC, an average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before their first arrest.

Compare.com reported that more than 300,000 times every day there are drunk drivers on the road. Of these drivers, only about 1% of them are arrested.

People drive drunk so often because they are overly confident in their ability to drive while intoxicated. If they’ve driven drunk before without getting caught, then they may feel emboldened to do it again. While some people get away with driving while drunk, it’s a huge risk to take every time someone gets behind the wheel of a car after drinking.

People who decide to drive drunk should know that:

  • They are risking people’s lives and risking devastating families
  • It’s illegal to drive drunk, and they will eventually be caught and punished

If they hurt someone, they will be sued for all possible damages.

9. One-Third of Car Accident Deaths are Caused by Drunk Driving

Drunk drivers caused 11,773 of the nation’s 37,261 traffic fatalities in 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In other words, 32% of deaths caused by a car accident were due to drunk driving.

Nothing could more clearly state that this is a problem.

In comparing DUI fatalities between the fifty states, Illinois falls high on the list with 349 alcohol-related fatalities in 2017. That makes it the 5th most dangerous state for drunk driving.

Above Illinois were:

  • Georgia – 366
  • North Carolina – 413
  • Florida – 839
  • California – 1120

10. Drunk Driving is Trending Downward

Even though an average of 10,000 people die each year from drunk driving, this number is still much lower than it once it was. According to NHTSA, drunk driving incidents have gone down by more than 30% in the last three decades. Responsibility.org estimates that decrease to be as high as 50%.

Drunk Driving Statistics Clarify the Danger and Risk

These drunk driving statistics make clear that drinking and driving can cause serious injuries and deaths. Fatal car accidents in the U.S. are caused by intoxicated drivers at an alarmingly high rate, and they affect everyone in one way or another.

Drunk driving can impair a driver’s ability to judge speed, timing, and distance. It can lead to dangerous driving behaviors such as failure to use turn signals, drifting, and failure to notice other vehicles or pedestrians on the roadway. Thus, not only are the roads more dangerous with drunk drivers, the financial toll of an alcohol-related accident extends to the average taxpayer.

[Read: What to Do After a Drunk Driver Hits You]

Suing a Drunk Driver for Negligence

Fortunately, the individuals responsible for alcohol-related accidents often face serious criminal charges in addition to being held civilly responsible to innocent accident victims. For this reason, it is important that the victims of any drunken driving accident seek free legal advice from an experienced attorney.

The victims of automobile accidents caused by an intoxicated driver can see their lives torn apart in an instant by another person’s negligent actions. For this reason, the injury lawyers and wrongful death attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. take special care in fighting for clients who have been seriously injured or killed by the negligent acts of a drunk driver. We will work with you to seek just compensation from drunk drivers and their insurance companies.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a drunk driving accident, request a Free Case Consultation or call (312) 924-7575 to speak with a lawyer now.

Seeking Compensation From a Drunk Driver

Being a drunk driving victim is stressful. You can face injuries and emotional trauma. You are the victim of someone else’s own unlawful and selfish actions. Illinois law, however, allows victims of a drunk driving accident to seek several types of compensation. Navigating and potentially collecting compensation under these laws can prove a complicated and lengthy process. The attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C., however, can assist in your review and possible claims against the drunk driver and other potentially negligible parties.

Under Illinois law, if a drunk driver injured you or someone you know, you have several potential sources from which to seek compensation for your injuries and damages.

Drunk driver’s insurance policy – If you sue a drunk driver for your damages and injuries, the first possible source of compensation is the drunk driver’s insurance policy. Illinois law may entitle you to recover for your actual damages and injuries up to the drunk driver’s policy limits. This might include recovery for medical damage, personal property damage, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.

Victim’s insurance policy (uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance) – If you are not made whole by the drunk driver’s insurance policy and you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, then you may file a claim against your own insurance policy.

Punitive Damages Against the Drunk Driver

The damages listed above are defined as compensatory damages. They compensate the victim for personal injury and property damage. However, in egregious cases, Illinois law may entitle a victim to punitive damages. Punitive damages are specifically meant to actually punish the actions of a negligent party (here, a drunk driver). In many ways, punitive damages are awarded to set an example, or deter others from similar behavior. Illinois sets out clear criteria that victims must meet before a court will award punitive damages. This includes:

  • The drunk driver must have engaged in reckless conduct—greater than ordinary negligence. This essentially means that the drunk driver must have acted with intent (that is, made a conscious choice to drive drunk)
  • The filed lawsuit must seek punitive damages and receive permission from the judge to pursue them
  • The court must award compensatory damages before considering the award of punitive damages.
  • Whether punitive damages are awarded depends on the facts of a specific case.

Compensation From Establishments That Served Drunk Drivers

Illinois has an extensive Dram Shop Act that allows a victim to file a lawsuit against the establishment (the bar, restaurant, or other licensed business) for injuries caused by a drunk driver whom they served to the point of intoxication. The law has specific limits about how much money a victim may recover, and it is updated annually. Victims must usually bring lawsuits against any such establishment within one year of the incident. The specific requirements that victims must prove to hold an establishment liable include:

  • The establishment actually sold alcohol to the drunk driver
  • The same drunk driver caused the victim’s injuries
  • The establishment is the proximate cause of the drunk driver’s intoxication (this means that the drunk driver’s intoxication was foreseeable from the sale by the establishment)
  • The drunk driver’s intoxication (as defined under Illinois law) was a major cause (that is, proximate cause) of the incident that resulted in the victim’s injury

Dram Shop Act lawsuits require a careful analysis of the facts and a complicated law, so hire experienced representation to guide you or your loved one. Having a good personal injury lawyer with knowledge about drunk driving recoveries for victims can make the difference between a successful recovery—or not.

Compensation for the Death of Drunk Driving Victims

In the horrible event that a drunk driver has killed a loved one, you or another (usually a personal representative of the loved ones estate) may file a civil lawsuit for wrongful death on behalf of the loved one’s estate. Illinois has a special law called the Wrongful Death Act. The rationale behind a wrongful death suit is to provide some financial stability for the surviving family members. This usually means a surviving spouse or children, but can also mean parents or siblings of the loved one. If criminal charges are pending in the death of your loved one, that will track separately from a wrongful death claim, which is filed in civil court.

The Wrongful Death Act allows the recovery of compensation related to:

  • Funeral and final burial costs of the loved one
  • Pecuniary losses (for example, loss of money, benefits, services, and society)
  • Lost inheritance
  • Emotional distress (including damages for grief, sorrow, and mental suffering)
  • Loss of companionship (for spouses)
  • Loss of parental guidance (for children)

There is no set amount of damages that a court can award in a wrongful death suit. Illinois law (740 ILCS 180/2) states only that the damages should result in “fair and just compensation.” This means the amount of compensation can vary greatly from case to case.

There are also time limits for when victims can file wrongful death cases. Depending on the facts of the case, this is usually only one or two years from the date of the loved one’s death. If you think you might have a claim, you will want to act quickly.

Contact a Chicago Attorney Today

After an accident occurs, it’s difficult to see past your immediate needs, which include rest and recovery. Seeking compensation as a victim for injuries and damages sustained by a drunk driver can daunt anyone. If a drunk driver injured you or someone that you care about, our law office can help guide you through the legal process. Contact us or call us at (312) 924-7575 today!

Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations Can Lead to Drunk Driving Accidents

St. Patrick’s Day brings a huge celebration to Chicago. The U.S. Census Bureau has reported that about seven percent of Chicagoans—approximately 201,500—are of Irish-American heritage. The rest of the city’s population, however, along with thousands of visitors, are ready and willing to join in the holiday and be “Irish for a day.” With the holiday falling on a Saturday in 2018, you can expect even more people will turn out for the hundreds of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations around the city.

The official party kicks off at about 9:00 a.m., when about 400,000 or so people will show up to watch the Chicago River turn green. Then, the St. Patrick’s Day parade will begin about noon, heading north from the Balbo and Columbus intersection. The afterparties will continue late into the night—and often into the next day, with the whole weekend becoming a celebration. The South Side and Wrigleyville are only a couple of the many popular spots to drink green beer and celebrate authentic or adopted Irish heritage.

St. Patrick’s Day provides a great celebration to bring the city together and have fun, as well as a boost for local businesses and tourism in Chicago. Unfortunately, it also marks a prime time for people to try to drive after drinking and for drunk driving accidents. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that drunk drivers cause one-third of traffic fatalities on St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, the USDOT started a campaign to banish drunk driving, just like St. Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland. Despite the best efforts of government agencies and law enforcement, however, drunk driving continues to mar this holiday with accidents, injuries, and fatalities in Chicago and across the United States.

Drunk Driving on St. Pat’s

Chicago offers so many opportunities for safe travel after drinking: public transportation, cabs, Uber, and more. Unfortunately, many people still decide to put a damper on the day and get behind the wheel of their own vehicle after they have had one too many green beers or Irish coffees. Chicago traffic worsens and becomes even more of a nightmare on busy weekends such as St. Patrick’s Day, with the risks of crashes significantly increased with more drunk drivers on the road.

Many people do not realize how much alcohol is too much to drive. Even though they may feel in control, their reflexes, focus, and judgment may be impaired, which can lead to serious and dangerous mistakes on the road. Combine such impairment with the traffic in Chicago on a holiday and it should be no surprise that drunk driving accidents occur.

Holding Drunk Drivers Liable for Your Injuries

Drunk drivers can cause crashes that leave you suffering from serious injuries. You may feel pain, be limited in your ability to work or move around, and require extensive treatment before you can get back to normal. Once your injuries have healed, you may still face a mountain of medical bills, as well as lost income if you missed work. Often, the effects of a drunk driving accident can linger for months or years. In other situations, your injuries may leave you with permanent impairments or disabilities and the drunk driver’s decisions will completely change the rest of your life.

Because the losses from a drunk driving accident can be so severe, it’s important that you understand your rights and how to take action to hold the drunk driver liable for your injuries and losses. Each case will differ, however, and you should be aware of certain steps to take to protect and exercise your legal rights.

Call the police – While it is always wise to call 911 after a car crash, it is especially important if you believe that the driver who caused the accident may have been drinking. Do not confront the driver yourself, as drunk individuals can sometimes become combative and aggressive, especially if they feel defensive. Instead, call the authorities and have them use their own methods to determine whether the driver was impaired, including field sobriety and breathalyzer tests. If the police believe the driver violated Illinois law, they can arrest the driver and a prosecutor can issue charges of driving under the influence. A conviction in a DUI case will often help your claim that the driver was intoxicated.

Seek medical help – If you believe you’re injured, you should never wait to undergo a medical evaluation. A timely diagnosis can help prove the extent of your injuries and justify all of your future medical treatments and costs. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, so it cannot hurt to get checked out to ensure you receive a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Call an attorney – Finally, you should always discuss your drunk driving accident with an attorney who has experience handling this type of complicated case. The right lawyer will evaluate your rights and the value of your claim. We can help you file an insurance claim and handle the claim process. Insurance companies can be more difficult than you might think – even in cases involving drunk driving. We will advocate on your behalf to ensure drunk drivers are held fully accountable for their actions. If needed, we will file a personal injury claim in court on your behalf and fight throughout the litigation process for the settlement you deserve.

Contact a Chicago Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer for Help Today

The aftermath of a drunk driving accident can be traumatic. You may be facing devastating injuries and losses, while wondering how you can get justice and financial recovery from the drunk driver who caused your pain and suffering. The Chicago car accident attorneys at the law firm of Abels & Annes are here to help. Case evaluations are free, so you have nothing to lose by scheduling a consultation. Contact us online or call 312-924-7575 for more information about how we can assist you.

Did a Drunk Driver Injure You During Halloween?

Before you left for your outing, you may have checked your car’s safety equipment—lights, signals, tires. Everything was good, and you hit the road, trying to be as safe as possible.

And then a drunk driver hit you.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that during the course of a year, someone dies in a drunk-driving accident every 53 minutes. During Labor Day weekend, the rate nearly doubles—to one death every 34 minutes. If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident with a drunk driver, whether during Labor Day weekend or at any other time, you should take some important steps. If you suffer an injury in that accident, it is critical that you protect your rights.

Steps o Protect Your Rights After an Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver

An automobile accident caused by a drunk driver presents unique issues for the sober driver who is injured by the intoxicated driver. Drunk driving is against the law and the intoxicated driver will likely be prosecuted in a criminal proceeding. While a conviction of the intoxicated driver might assist you in proving liability, the criminal case against the drunk driver will not likely result in your receiving compensation. The criminal court might order some form of restitution, but that may not cover even a fraction of your losses.

Your claim for compensation will have to come in a civil action independent of the criminal case. Your civil claim against the intoxicated driver will seek financial compensation for your injuries and damages. While a criminal conviction of the intoxicated driver can make your civil case easier, you can take steps at the scene of the accident to strengthen your case, injuries permitting. You should:

  • Call for emergency medical assistance, if needed.
  • Call the police to report the accident.
  • Avoid interacting with the driver you believe to be intoxicated. Stay in your car, lock the doors, and wait for the police.
  • Write down the other driver’s license plate number. Drunk drivers sometimes flee the scene of the accident.
  • Request a sobriety test for the other driver when the police arrive.
  • Take pictures of the scene if you are able.

Write down everything you remember about the accident as soon as you are able, including the time, location, and all other details you can remember about the accident. Include the names of any passengers or other witnesses if possible.

Evidence Commonly Used in a Drunk Driving Personal Injury Case

Most people may believe that it is relatively simple to prove that a driver who hit you and caused you injury was intoxicated. In some cases, this is true, as the driver may be clearly drunk, there may be witnesses, or the driver may be arrested and charged with driving under the influence. In other situations, it may not be as clear and there may be questions as to whether the driver was impaired at the time of the crash. In short, it is always imperative to have a law firm on your side who knows how to fully investigate an accident to determine when it is possible to hold a driver liable for drunk-driving crashes.

At an accident scene, one of the most important things you can do to protect your rights is call 911 and wait for law enforcement officers to arrive. Officers will investigate possible causes of the collision and should specifically try to determine whether any drivers involved were intoxicated. If there is any suspicion that a driver has been drinking, officers should perform field sobriety or breathalyzer tests to determine whether the driver’s abilities were impaired or whether the> blood alcohol content was above the legal limit of .08 percent.

Evidence gathered by officers that clearly indicates a driver was intoxicated can also be used in your civil claim to prove the driver should compensate you for your losses. In addition, if police determine that a driver was drunk, they should arrest that driver and the prosecutor will likely issue charges of driving under the influence.

If, for some reason, no police officers are called to the scene or the drunk driver leaves before they arrive, there are other ways to prove that a driver was intoxicated. It can be based on witness testimony if anyone saw the driver operating a vehicle in an erratic fashion. This can include swerving, driving the wrong way, departing a lane, driving too fast or slow, driving without lights at night, or other risky, dangerous or unusual behaviors. Witnesses who stopped at the scene or other motorists involved in the accident may also testify to the driver’s condition immediately following the crash. Common signs of intoxication include red or watery eyes, slurred speech, stumbling, the odor of alcohol, and disorientation.

Whether or not the driver was arrested, drunk-driving accidents can involve complex evidentiary issues. It is essential to seek help from a law firm that has specific experience handling drunk-driving cases. An attorney can handle the entire insurance process for you and fight against any questioning about the impaired driver’s liability. If needed, a car accident lawyer can represent you in a legal claim and take every step to ensure you receive the full amount you deserve for your losses.

Contact a Chicago Drunk Driving Lawyer for Help Today

If you have been injured in an accident with a drunk driver in the Chicago area, you should consult a car accident attorney as soon as possible to determine your rights under the circumstances of your accident. The attorneys of Abels & Annes can assist you in protecting your rights when you are involved in such an accident. You can reach us at (312) 924-7575 or through our website.

Be on the Lookout for Drunk Drivers This Memorial Day

It should come as no surprise that Chicagoans like to celebrate, and national holidays like the upcoming Memorial Day often provide the perfect opportunity to do so. Many people have long weekends from work and choose to get together with family members and friends to hit the water, barbecue, and enjoy the spring weather. Like many social gatherings, Memorial Day celebrations often involve indulging in alcoholic drinks.

Unfortunately, some people ignore the serious risks of drunk driving and decide to drive home after having too much to drink. For this reason, the risks of drunk driving increase over major holidays, and you and your family members should be particularly cautious if you are on the roads during these three days in May. Additionally, if you are hit by a drunk driver, you should know what to do to protect your legal rights.

Call the Authorities

Many people are unsure whether they should call 911 following a car crash or handle the aftermath of the accident on their own. Regardless of whether you suspect that the other driver might be intoxicated, you should always call the police after an accident. Officers can perform field sobriety tests, Breathalyzer tests, and make observations that may lead to an arrest and charges for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). While a criminal case will not provide you with compensation for your injuries, it can certainly make your claim easier if the driver is convicted of DUI.

Seek Medical Treatment

Seeking medical help as soon as possible after an accident is important for your health and for a legal claim arising from the accident. You want to make sure that all your injuries are properly diagnosed and treated as soon as possible to minimize complications for you. In addition, you want documentation of all your injuries by a medical professional who can prove the extent of your treatment-related losses.

Call a Chicago Auto Accident Attorney at Abels & Annes

Finally, you should always contact a drunk driving accident lawyer who understands how to hold intoxicated drivers liable for all your losses. At the Chicago law firm of Abels & Annes, we can help you obtain the compensation you need, so please call for a free consultation at 312-924-7575 today.

Watch Out for Drunk Drivers this Graduation Season

As we enter spring, many students are focused on summer and the end of the school year. For many high school and college seniors, this time will mark the end of a chapter of their lives, as they will walk across a stage at graduation and receive a diploma. Graduation is often a time to celebrate both a student’s past achievements and what he or she may look forward to in the future. Unfortunately, too many people have graduation season disrupted by a drunk driving accident.

Young Drivers and Alcohol

With graduation parties often comes alcohol, and this means that some people may make the dangerous decision to drive home after drinking. This practice is particularly common among young drivers, as they may not fully realize the risks of driving drunk. In addition, underage individuals may be hesitant to call a parent or another adult for a ride out of fear they will be punished for being intoxicated. For this reason, there may be an increase in the number of young and intoxicated drivers on the road in the coming months.

Young drivers are not the only ones who may indulge at a graduation party and then drive home. Some adult drivers will also make this decision. When it is a season of celebration, you can expect the risk of drunk driving accidents and injuries to increase.

Damage Caused by Drunk Drivers

Drunk drivers often lack focus and judgment on the road and can cause devastating crashes as a result. When a drunk driver collides with another vehicle, the victims of the accident can suffer severe and often life-changing injuries.

The law allows injured victims to hold drunk drivers accountable for their dangerous actions by filing a personal injury claim. This process is not easy, however, especially for someone who is dealing with a serious injury. Our drunk driving accident attorneys are here to guide you through the legal process, and they will ensure you receive the full amount you deserve from the drunk driver.

Contact Our Chicago Car Accident Attorneys for a Free Case Evaluation

If you have been injured by a drunk driver, please call the Chicago office of Abels & Annes at (312) 924-7575 as soon as possible. The sooner you call, the sooner our legal team can begin working on your case.

Watch Out for Drunk Drivers this St. Patrick’s Day

On March 17th, millions of people around the country will recognize St. Patrick’s Day by eating corned beef and cabbage, attending parades featuring bagpipers and floats, and generally celebrating Irish culture and heritage. In addition, like any other celebration in the United States, St. Patrick’s Day parties often involve the consumption of alcohol, particularly those with Irish roots such as Guinness and various brands of Irish Whiskey.

According to the International Business Times,1 Chicago has the 2nd largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the country and over one million people attend the parade. While dyeing the Chicago River green and celebrating the “Apostle of Ireland” may seem like harmless fun, the reality is that St. Patrick’s Day can result in significantly more drunk drivers on the road than on other days, putting all of us at risk.

Here are some of the ways you can reduce your risk of involvement in an accident caused by a drunk driver this St. Patrick’s Day.

  • While not feasible for everyone, staying off of the roads is the most effective way to make sure you are not involved in an accident with a drunk driver. Work from home if you can, and put errands off for another day.
  • Avoid areas around large celebrations.
  • If you see a vehicle driving erratically, make sure to put plenty of space between you and the other driver and call your local law enforcement agency.

In the unfortunate event that you are involved in an accident with a driver, you suspect is under the influence, make sure to have law enforcement respond to the scene of the accident. When police respond to the scene, if they share your suspicions, they will conduct sobriety testing to gather evidence of intoxication. In many cases, the fact that a driver was under drunk will be sufficient to establish liability,2 making it almost certain that you will be entitled to compensation for any losses you sustained because of the accident.

Contact a Chicago Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Options

The lawyers of Abels & Annes, P.C. are committed to protecting the rights of individuals who have been hurt in accidents by impaired drivers. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.

1 http://www.ibtimes.com/st-patricks-day-parade-2014-top-10-largest-parades-schedules-route-maps-new-york-boston-chicago-more
2 https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/liability