Drunk driving accidents can have devastating consequences for those involved. Alcohol is the number one contributing cause of deaths from automobile accidents. Here are a few tips from our team on what to do after a car accident.
The number of injuries caused by drunk drivers each year is staggering. Although the number has been decreasing in recent years, in 2015, 190 people in Wisconsin were killed in alcohol-related crashes and nearly 2,900 were injured. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in the U.S. there were 10,511 deaths in 2018. The most common injury in alcohol-impaired crashes are spinal injuries.
Is a drunk driver always at fault in a car accident?
The fact that a driver is impaired does not automatically mean that they are at fault for the drunk driving accident. However, even a small amount of alcohol, medication or illegal substance in someone’s blood can impair their decision-making when operating a vehicle. Therefore, blood or breath test results following a car accident can be very important for your case. If you suspect the individual who caused a car accident was impaired, immediately report this to the police.
The drunk driver may be charged by the District Attorney’s office with a crime. This decision will depend on how much the drunk driver at fault had to drink and on the types of injuries caused.
However, many drunk driving accidents do not result in criminal charges. Thankfully, insurance companies must provide coverage for injuries caused in drunk driving accidents. Even if no criminal charges were filed, if you were injured in a drunk driving accident, you may have options to receive compensation.
Types of Recoveries Available for Drunk Driving Accidents
Wrongful Death or Injuries:
There must be proof that the death was wrongful, and that the defendant was directly negligent in the death or can be held liable for the death.
Medical Bills / Lost Wages:
Medical expenses include the medical bills that were paid for the injuries sustained as a result of the accident. Lost wages include the income lost because of an inability to work due to injury.
Also referred to as exemplary damages, these are damages assessed in the legal process to punish a defendant for negligence. In Wisconsin there are factors identified to whether punitive damages will be awarded:
- The level of alcohol concentration in the drunk driver’s system at the time of collision.
- Whether the drunk driver had previously been convicted of other drinking and driving offenses.
- How reckless the drunk driver was operating his or her vehicle. This would include excessive speed, ignoring traffic control signals like stop signs and traffic control lights, racing with other drivers, and failing to keep the vehicle within the proper lane of travel.
Should I hire a drunk driving attorney?
If you are injured when a drunk driver hits you, you will have a claim against their insurance company. If their insurance cannot cover the costs of the injury, you may also have a claim against your own insurance company.
A drunk driving victim may have additional options such as restitution and the opportunity to make statements at the sentencing. This will depend on whether the action is charged as a crime. There are many factors to keep in mind when pursuing a drunk driving accident case, including:
- The amount of insurance available
- The injuries caused
- The age and impairment of the drunk driver
These are all things an experienced drunk driving accident attorney can help with you with. There are many different layers associated with an accident involving a drunk driver. A drunk driving lawyer can review your case and the options available to you.