Drunk driving remains sadly common in Atlanta. And if you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, you’re going to be left with questions—and anger. You need to know what your rights are, how much money you can expect, and how to hold the drunk driver accountable. You need to talk to an Atlanta drunk driving accident lawyer.
Our lawyers can help you get you the answers—and the money—you need. Let us give you a free consultation to answer your questions and get you started. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.
How is drunk driving defined legally in Atlanta?
The terms “drunk driving” and “DUI” are often used interchangeably, but technically they have slightly different meanings. Drunk driving usually means driving while intoxicated by alcohol. DUI has a broader definition: it means driving under the influence of ANY substance that can affect your nervous system and your driving. This means that a DUI accident can occur if a driver is under the influence of any of these common substances:
- Prescription drugs
- Over the counter drugs that cause drowsiness
- Heroin, cocaine, crack and other illegal drugs
As you can see, a drug does not have to be illegal to lead to a DUI accident. However, the driver must be impaired. In the case of alcohol, police will usually administer a breath or blood test to see if the driver is over the legal limit of .08% blood alcohol content. Blood and urine tests are commonly used to detect the presence of other drugs. But a driver can be convicted of DUI even if there was never any test at all.
Who is considered to be “at fault” in a drunk driving accident in Atlanta?
Often, the drunk driver is the one who is at fault. Alcohol and drugs affect your ability to drive safely. Drivers who are under the influence may be overconfident and overly aggressive, they may speed, their response time may be slowed, and they may even pass out behind the wheel. All of these are potentially lethal to others on the road.
Drivers have a legal responsibility to follow the rules of the road and use care when operating their vehicles. When drivers are drunk and careless, they violate this duty—legally, we say that they are “negligent.” A driver can be negligent without meaning to cause an accident. A negligent driver must pay all the costs and damage that result from an accident.
But being under the influence does not automatically mean that you are at fault in an accident. There are times when a drunk driver is NOT at fault. For example, this might happen if a driver was under the influence, but was rear ended while sitting still at a stoplight.
How much money can I collect?
Georgia law says that you can recover the FULL AMOUNT of your costs and damages from the driver who was at fault. In a typical car accident case, accident victims may be entitled to:
- Medical bills
- Prescription drug costs
- Lost wages if you missed time from work because of the accident
- The cost of fixing your car or replacing a totaled vehicle
- Large financial awards for severe losses such as disabilities and pain and suffering
Drunk driving cases are special, however, because the law allows you to recover substantially more. If the accident was caused by a driver under the influence, the court can award you punitive damages. Punitive damages aren’t related to your actual losses. Instead, they are meant to punish the other driver for choosing to endanger lives by driving drunk.
Because of the possibility of punitive damages, drunk driving cases are often worth substantially more than other types of accident cases—often upwards of $100,000.
What if I was a passenger in the drunk driver’s car?
Passengers are entitled to a full financial recovery for their injuries, no matter whose car they were riding in. However, as a practical matter, we have seen that some insurance companies and judges look at you differently if you were riding with the drunk driver. For example, if you knew the driver was intoxicated, the insurance company may not offer you as much, or a court may not award punitive damages. This makes it especially important to protect your rights by talking to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
The insurance company already offered me money. How can a lawyer help me?
Insurance companies sometimes swoop in after an accident, sounding concerned and offering money right away. The money is tempting, especially if you are worried about your medical bills. But you should know this about insurance companies: their main goal is to make a profit. One of their strategies is to try to settle claims as fast and cheaply as possible. Because of this, it is highly unlikely the insurance company will offer you what your claim is really worth. That is why it is important to have a lawyer to advocate for you.
A lawyer knows what kind of evidence the insurance company needs to see before it will give you a fair offer. A car accident attorney in Atlanta has connections to investigators, experts and doctors who can give you a full evaluation and estimate the true cost of your recovery. A lawyer can drive a hard bargain with insurance companies, and can advise you on the possibilities of getting a judge to award punitive damages. Hiring a lawyer is one of the best things an accident victim can do.
Talk to an Atlanta Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer for Free
Our lawyers have devoted their careers to helping victims of drunk driving and other accidents. We never charge you any money unless we win money for you. Let us give you a FREE consultation to discuss your claim and help you decide what to do next. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.