Drunk driving affects virtually everyone in the United States at some point in their lives, and that includes countless accident victims in Kennesaw. For some, it could mean a close call, for others, it may be the loss of a loved one. The sad truth is that most people know the dangers and risks of driving drunk, but they do it anyway. When a drunk driver causes an accident, they not only face criminal charges, but are likely liable for your damages and injuries as well. A Kennesaw drunk driving accident lawyer can help.
Our lawyers have extensive experience dealing with personal injury cases that involve drunk drivers—they’ve been doing it for over 20 years. If you or a loved one has been in an accident with a drunk driver, you need someone who understands the nuances of these cases and who will listen to your experiences both during and after the crash. We can help. Let us give you a free consultation. Give us a call at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.
How common are drunk driving accidents?
Driving under the influence occurs every day in the United States. In fact, someone is killed in a drunk driving accident every roughly 50 minutes. That means that there are roughly 28 deaths per day in the U.S. because of a drunk driver. There are also thousands of injuries that happen every year because of drunk driving.
That makes drunk driving one of the biggest causes of injuries and deaths related to car accidents. It’s no surprise that the law takes DUI so seriously. Laws in Georgia not only punish drunk drivers, they also exist to help victims recover from the impact of their accident and remain financially stable in the aftermath.
Do I need to sue the drunk driver if they are already being prosecuted?
You need to at least file a claim and, in many cases, this will involve a lawsuit. The criminal charge is actually completely separate from your lawsuits, which is a civil personal injury case. The standards of proof, the procedure used, and the parties involved are all very different. For example, a driver who was intoxicated can be charged with committing a criminal offense regardless of whether they caused an accident or any damage. In a personal injury case, you must show that the driver was the cause of your injuries or damage to recover any money.
Perhaps the most important difference is that you, as a victim, will not get any compensation from the criminal case. The penalties in a criminal case could including things like jail time, fines, and having to attend an alcohol education course. None of those fines will go to you—they all go to the Court. To recover any money for your losses, you need to start a civil case. Any money that you get in your case will not go to the Court. Instead, you can use that money to deal with things like medical expenses, costs that have built up while you haven’t been working, any property damage to your vehicle, and more. The main reason to start a civil case is to get money for all of the losses that the drunk driver caused you or your family.
If the driver has been convicted of drunk driving for the accident that they caused, that information can be very helpful for your case. Because of the increased standard of proof in criminal cases (“beyond a reasonable doubt”), it’s great evidence that the driver was actually impaired when the crash occurred. That information is beneficial for your case, but it won’t necessarily guarantee that you will win money. You still need to prove a few other items in your civil matter, including that the driver’s impairment caused the accident and that your injuries were the result of the crash. Your drunk driving accident attorney will be able to help you gather evidence and information to prove these final requirements.
What if I’m being told I’m the one at fault—not the drunk driver?
Although uncommon, there are situations where drunk driving accident victims were also partially at fault for the accident. Perhaps you were speeding when the crash occurred, or maybe you didn’t pause at a yield sign just before the crash. Even if you are partially at fault, you can still get money damages for your claim. That money will simply be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you due to the accident. This is because Georgia is a modified comparative fault (or negligence) state.
Comparative fault applies when one or more people are at fault for the accident. Each person involved will be assigned a percentage of the blame for the crash. This percentage is assigned by a jury or judge. But, it is definitely something the insurance company will keep in mind when considering settlement options.
Consider an example. Imagine you are speeding through an intersection. A drunk driver slams into another car, which then loses control of their vehicle and runs into you. All three of those drivers are arguably at fault. You may be, for example, 10% at fault because you were speeding. The drunk driver may be 85% at fault, and the second driver is 5% at fault. Each percentage represents the amount of the total damages that each driver will be responsible for paying. If your losses are $100,000, the drunk driver will pay $85,000 and the second driver will pay $5,000. You will not get the additional $10,000 because that represents the amount of fault that is attributed to you.
This type of allocation applies until the fault assigned to you is 50% or above. When it gets to that point, you cannot recover any money for your losses because you are considered the primary cause for the accident. In drunk driving situations, however, the victim is rarely at fault to the point that it would stop their legal claims.
Talk to a Kennesaw Drunk Driving Lawyer for Free
If you are considering a lawsuit after a drunk driving accident, you need experienced, compassionate legal counsel who will be there for you every step of the way. Let us connect you with some of the top drunk driving lawyers in the state—and give you a FREE consultation. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to schedule your free consultation today.