Drunk driving accidents are usually high-speed collisions that bring about debilitating and sometimes deadly injuries. In addition to seeking the medical treatment you need after a drunk driving accident, retain an experienced lawyer who can handle the legal process for you and pursue the full monetary recovery you deserve for your injuries.
An experienced Phoenix drunk driving accident lawyer can handle the various legal components of your case, including gathering the evidence necessary to satisfy your legal burden of proof.
Important evidence in a drunk driving accident case may include copies of police reports and investigations, camera footage, and witness statements. In addition to gathering important evidence, your lawyer can handle all settlement negotiations with insurance company representatives on your behalf.
If the insurance company does not settle your case favorably, your attorney may file a lawsuit to pursue the full monetary recovery you deserve.
Throughout the process, your lawyer can answer any questions that come to mind and offer sound advice when making important decisions in your case, including whether to accept a settlement offer from the insurance company or litigate your case in the court system.
Your attorney will do everything possible to maximize your overall monetary award so that you become whole again after your drunk driving accident.
When is a Driver Legally Intoxicated?
The specific standards for alcohol intoxication vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction across the country. Across the board, though, passenger vehicle operators with a blood alcohol concentration (or BAC) of at least 0.08 percent are legally intoxicated.
Most jurisdictions also hold certain categories of drivers to stricter standards. For example, many locations declare a commercial vehicle operator – including a tractor-trailer driver – legally intoxicated if their BAC reaches 0.04 percent or greater. Moreover, many jurisdictions have a zero-tolerance policy for drivers younger than 21.
An intoxicated driver, as determined via Breathalyzer or chemical testing, may face arrest. Upon conviction for DUI or OWI, the driver may face criminal penalties, including jail time and high monetary fines. They may also incur various administrative penalties, including the loss of their driver's license and required participation in a substance abuse program.
Finally, suppose a drunk driver causes a motor vehicle accident that leads to others' injuries. In that case, the drunk driver, through their insurance company, may have to pay the accident victim monetary compensation in the form of damages.
A knowledgeable drunk driving accident lawyer in your area can investigate the circumstances of your unique accident and file a personal injury claim with the insurance company – usually for the at-fault motorist. Your lawyer can then pursue the favorable monetary award you deserve to recover for your accident-related injuries and losses.
Types of Car Collisions that Drunk Drivers Frequently Cause
Intoxicated drivers may cause:
- Rear-end or tailgate accidents, where a drunk driver's vehicle strikes the back of another vehicle, usually because the drunk driver cannot judge their surroundings and speeds – or they fail to watch the road attentively.
- Sideswipe accidents, where a drunk driver weaves in and out of its travel lane, and the side of their vehicle strikes the side of another vehicle in an adjacent lane.
- Head-on collisions, where a drunk driver's vehicle drifts across the center line or concrete median barrier and strikes the front of an oncoming vehicle, usually resulting in permanent or fatal injuries.
- Broadside or T-bone accidents, where a drunk driver negligently runs a red light, stop sign, or yield sign, causing the front of their car or truck to strike the side of a vehicle traveling or an intersecting road.
If you suffered injuries in any drunk driving accident, a personal injury attorney in your area can aggressively advocate for you and your legal interests. Your lawyer can pursue a claim with the responsible driver's insurance company and aggressively negotiate for favorable settlement compensation on your behalf.
Common Injuries in Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk driving accidents frequently occur at high speeds and may lead to debilitating and sometimes permanent injuries for affected drivers and passengers. A permanent injury may result in ongoing pain and other symptoms for the remainder of the accident victim's life.
The injuries that a drunk driving accident victim will suffer typically depend upon the accident circumstances and the type of accident that occurs.
Other factors that may affect the injuries and damages that an accident victim suffers include the amount of force involved in the crash, the number of vehicles involved, and the accident victim's bodily movements at the time of impact.
In a drunk driving accident, the accident victim's body may:
- Move from side to side in their seat, causing muscular contusions, sprains, or strains.
- Move frontwards and backward abruptly, causing a soft tissue whiplash injury to the neck and back.
- Strike something in the vehicle, such as the door, window, steering wheel, or headrest, leading to a severe injury.
Some of the most common drunk driving accident injuries include:
- Internal bleeding
- Soft tissue injuries (including whiplash and muscular sprains/strains)
- Open cuts and lacerations
- Internal organ damage
- Bone fractures
- Rib fractures
- Spinal cord injuries
- Complete and incomplete paralysis injuries
- Facial contusions
- Visible scarring
- Cognitive impairments
- Eye damage
- Traumatic head and brain injuries
Upon suffering any of these injuries in a drunk driving crash, you should consult a medical professional and continue treating for your injuries until a healthcare provider formally discharges you from care.
At that point, your car accident lawyer in Phoenix can forward a settlement demand package to the insurance company, including copies of all your medical treatment records and bills. The insurance company will then evaluate your claim, and your attorney can start negotiating favorable settlement compensation in your case.
Gathering Important Evidence Following Your Accident
In a motor vehicle accident involving a drunk driver, the injured victim still has the sole legal burden of proof. To satisfy their legal burden, the accident victim must present certain evidence in support of their claim. Your attorney can gather and forward the necessary evidence to the insurance company or defense lawyer.
First, if your lawyer files a lawsuit in court, they can subpoena the police report. A police report may describe how the accident occurred and the positions of the vehicles. It may also indicate the police officer's observations about the other driver, including whether or not they had bloodshot eyes or slurred speech. Finally, a police report may indicate whether the officer issued the other driver a citation and, if so, what the citation was for.
A drunk driving accident lawyer can also speak with eyewitnesses to the occurrence to learn more about the accident and how it happened. A witness can testify at a discovery deposition – or as a fact witness at a civil jury trial – in support of your case.
If your case is in litigation, your lawyer can request any relevant documents in the defense attorney's possession, including property damage photographs and other potential evidence, during the discovery phase. Finally, your lawyer can subpoena video footage from a traffic camera, police dash cam, or nearby business showing the real accident.
All of this evidence may satisfy the legal burden of proof in your case so that you recover monetary compensation and damages for all of your accident-related losses.
Proving the Legal Elements of a Drunk Driving Accident Case
To recover monetary damages in a drunk driving accident case, the accident victim will need to satisfy several legal elements.
First, other drivers have a duty to drive in a careful, safe, and prudent manner at all times under the circumstances. They also must follow all traffic regulations and refrain from intoxicated driving.
To recover monetary damages in their case, an accident victim must show that an intoxicated driver caused the car accident. The accident victim must also demonstrate that they suffered at least one physical injury directly from their accident.
To causally relate your injury or injuries to the drunk driving accident, your lawyer can retain a medical expert to testify in your case or draft a favorable medical report.
Medical experts are frequently your current healthcare providers or experts in their particular medical specialty. To a reasonable degree of medical probability, a medical provider can state that your injury or injuries are directly related to the accident and whether you suffered a permanent injury in your accident.
Recovering Monetary Compensation for Drunk Driving Accident Injuries
Following a drunk driving accident, you might be eligible to receive various types of monetary damages, depending on the severity of your injuries, the cost of your medical treatment, the specific medical treatment you underwent, and whether or you suffered a permanent or lifelong injury in your accident.
First, you may receive compensation for your related medical expenses and anticipated medical costs if you suffered a permanent bodily injury or cognitive impairment. You may also receive monetary damages for your lost earnings or loss of earning capacity.
Additionally, you can pursue monetary recovery for your lost quality of life, loss of the ability to use a body part, permanent disfigurement or disability, long-term care costs, past and future pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental distress, and loss of spousal consortium.
Your attorney can evaluate the strength of your case and present you with a ballpark figure for its ultimate settlement or verdict value.
Call an Experienced Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Today
If you recently suffered injuries in a drunk driving accident, consult a legal professional as quickly as possible. Accident victims only have two years from their accident date to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking monetary damages. Therefore, act quickly and retain the legal assistance that you need right now.
A drunk driving accident lawyer in your area can handle every aspect of your case, from gathering evidence to negotiating with insurance company adjusters to favorably litigating your case in the state court system. Every step of the way, your lawyer will work hard to maximize the monetary recovery you receive for your injuries.
Knowing someone made a bad and completely preventable decision and altered your life can cause mental and emotional agony. Add in physical injuries and financial concerns, and it is no surprise that drunk drivers physically and mentally overwhelm their victims.
Fortunately, someone is ready to support you and provide the assistance and guidance you need in this challenging time. Seek a free consultation with a car accident lawyer who knows how to hold drunk drivers fully accountable.