Drunk driving is all too common in the Smyrna area, and in the Atlanta metro area as a whole. Of course, we are not alone in this problem — it’s a nationwide issue. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), every two minutes a drunk driving crash injures someone. And every 51 minutes, someone dies as a result of a drunk driving accident. Their statistics show 2 out of 3 people will be affected by a drunk driving accident at some point in their lives.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident where alcohol was involved, you need to speak with a Smyrna drunk driving accident lawyer to help make sure the insurance company treats you fairly. If someone died in the DUI accident, our legal team can help you determine if filing a wrongful death lawsuit is in your best interests.
There are plenty of lawyers who try and keep the drunk driver out of jail, and who try to say they were not at fault in the accident. Our firm protects the interests of people who have been injured by drunk drivers. We go after the other driver’s insurance company and third parties when necessary to make sure you and your family receive a settlement that will cover your medical costs, property damage, and other damages. We’ll sue on your behalf if the insurance company doesn’t offer a fair settlement.
Defining Drunk Driving in Georgia
People often think drunk driving and DUI mean the same thing, but under the law, they don’t. Drunk driving is driving while impaired by alcohol. The legal definition of DUI is much broader. DUI means driving under the influence of anything that that can affect your body coordination and reaction time, and thus, your driving. Common substances in a DUI charge include:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Prescribed drugs, especially narcotics and muscle relaxants
- Common store-bought drugs that can make you sleepy such as cold and flu medication
- Marijuana — you can be charged even if you have a prescription for medical marijuana
- Illegal drugs such as meth, heroin, cocaine and crack
If police suspect drunk driving, they will usually give the driver a breath or blood test to see if the driver is over the legal limit of .08% blood alcohol content. That legal limit is only .02% if the driver is under the legal drinking age of 21. Investigators may order blood and urine tests to see if there are drugs in the driver’s system.
Is a Drunk Driver Always at Fault?
Most times, the insurance companies or the courts assign fault to the impaired driver. Drugs or alcohol can affect the ability to drive safely. Drunk drivers or impaired drivers may speed, drive aggressively, cross the center line and more. Any of these things can cause an accident.
But if you are hit by a drunk driver, you may be found partially at fault if you rear-ended them, or if you violated traffic laws — such as speeding or running a red light. If you are less than 51% responsible for the accident, you are entitled to collect damages. Any damages you are awarded would be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you. For example, if the award was $30,000 and the impaired driver was 100% at fault, you could collect the full $30,000. If you were 10% at fault, you would ultimately collect $27,000. 10% of $30,000 = $3,000.
How Much Money Can I Get from a Drunk Driving Accident?
How much money you can collect from the insurance company depends on a number of factors. But in general, if the impaired driver was 100% at fault in the accident, you would be entitled to collect 100% of your costs. In most drunk driving accident cases, victims are entitled to compensation to cover:
- Medical bills, including future medical bills related to the accident
- Reimbursement for the cost of prescription drugs
- The cost of car repairs or a new vehicle if yours was totaled
- Any lost pay if you missed work due to the accident
- Additional monetary awards if you have a disability related to the accident, or payment for pain and suffering
But drunk driving accident cases are different than other accidents, because Georgia law allows you to recover more money in damages. If a drunk or impaired driver caused the accident, you may be awarded what are called punitive damages. Punitive damages aren’t connected to your medical bills and totaled car. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the other driver for making the irresponsible and dangerous decision to drive drunk. Adding punitive damages to other damages means that drunk driving cases can settle for more money than other accident cases. By that we mean drunk driving cases have been known to settle for more than $100,000.
What If the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
If the other driver does not have insurance, we may still be able to help you recover damages. It will be more complicated than negotiating a settlement with an insurance company, but it can be done. You may want to visit our page on Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Accident page for more information.
Talk to a Smyrna Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer for Free
If you’ve been injured in a drunk driving accident, consulting with a Smyrna drunk driving accident lawyer may be the one of the best decisions you make. Our lawyers have helped countless DUI accident victims over the years. We’d like to put our experience to work for you, by giving you a FREE case evaluation to help you figure out the right next steps for your case.