Everyone knows that drunk driving isn’t safe. Though it’s viewed as a serious crime and awareness is at an all-time high, unfortunately, driving under the influence remains common in Columbus. In fact, intoxicated driving in Georgia accounts for nearly one in three traffic deaths.
The aftermath of a serious accident is frightening and stressful. As medical bills pile up, it’s best to seek legal support. A Columbus DUI accident attorney will help you file a claim to recover the full costs of your medical care, car repairs, lost work time, plus additional money. Our personal injury law firm can protect your rights.
What Counts as Driving Under the Influence in Georgia?
The legal definition of drunk driving is much broader than most people think. From a legal perspective, the phrase “buzzed driving is drunk driving” is true.
Georgia’s legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08%. Therefore, almost anyone who gets behind the wheel after consuming alcohol likely has some level of impairment and may be breaking the law.
Alcohol isn’t the only way to get a DUI. Any substance that affects your driving also counts. Georgia treats driving under the influence the same no matter what substance is involved:
- Illegal drugs like marijuana or cocaine
- Legal prescription drugs
- Over-the-counter drugs that cause drowsiness, such as cough syrup
Additionally, Georgia has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drunk driving. Drivers under 21 are guilty of DUI if they have any amount of alcohol in their system, even if they’re not over the .08% legal limit.
Depending on the severity of the offense, an intoxicated driver may face significant consequences, including license suspension, heavy fines, hours of community service, and jail time.
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What Should You Do If a Drunk Driver Injured You (or a Loved One)?
Remember that the other motorist will do everything possible to avoid facing the consequences of their actions. Therefore, anyone injured by a drunk driver should take steps to gather evidence and protect their rights. Some simple steps you can take include:
- Call the police immediately: Many drivers will offer to resolve the accident without getting a law enforcement officer or insurance companies involved to avoid license suspension and other penalties. However, getting a police report will strengthen your claim.
- Tell the police if you suspect the other driver is intoxicated: Police are trained to recognize symptoms of drunkenness and drug use. They can administer a field sobriety test or a Breathalyzer test on the spot.
- Take a video: If you have a phone, start recording a video before approaching the other motorist. An impaired driver often shows obvious signs of intoxication like slurred speech, confusion, anger, or stumbling. Your video can serve as evidence.
- Watch for the driver trying to cover up evidence: Take pictures if you see them trying to get rid of bottles or cans, pour out a beverage, take eye drops, or use breath spray.
- Get witnesses: Ask others at the scene if they saw what happened, and exchange information with witnesses so that you can contact them later.
- Get medical attention: Even if your injuries seem minor initially, you need to go to a doctor immediately after the accident and get a diagnosis.
Most importantly, call a DUI accident lawyer in Columbus, GA. Drunk driving laws are complex, and winning a claim without legal assistance is difficult. In addition, your attorney can pull the criminal record and driving record of the person who injured you and see if they have a history of past convictions.
What Are You Entitled to Recover If You Were Injured by an Intoxicated Driver in Columbus?
As the victim, you have a right to recover far more after a drunk driving crash than you would in other motor vehicle accident cases. You could be awarded tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The financial recoveries in drunk driving cases are large because judges can award “punitive damages.” These are extra financial awards that the liable party must pay the victim above and beyond the actual costs of the accident. This is meant to both punish the drunk driver and deter future DUIs.
In addition to the punitive damages, you have a right to recover:
- All your medical costs, including doctor appointments, medication, and physical therapy
- The cost of repairing or replacing your car or other damaged property
- The value of any lost wages due to time missed at work because of the accident
Remember that drunk driving cases are complex. Sometimes, it’s advisable to wait until the liable party is convicted in criminal court before pursuing your claim. In other cases, it’s important to move as quickly as possible.
This is why we urge every victim to speak to an experienced drunk driving accident attorney in Muscogee County.
Do You Still Have a Claim If You Knowingly Got Into the Car With a Drunk Driver?
Yes, you have a valid claim because the drunk driver is still at fault even if you were their passenger, whether or not you knew or suspected they were inebriated when you got into the car. They are the ones who broke the law and caused the accident.
However, the Muscogee County courts may view your case differently if you knew the driver was drunk. A Columbus, GA, drunk driving victim accident lawyer can walk you through the possible outcomes of your case and help you understand your legal options.
At our law firm, we believe in helping accident victims and will not let your legal rights be taken away from you.
Who Is Responsible for the Costs of the DUI Accident?
Normally, the intoxicated motorist who engages in reckless driving bears full responsibility on their own. However, there are times when this is not fully true.
Bartenders, servers, and restaurant owners are legally obligated not to serve patrons who already appear intoxicated. They might be responsible for the accident costs if they overserved a client.
Anyone who provides alcohol to a juvenile under 21 breaks the law and shares responsibility for their actions. A party host who knowingly gave alcohol to a minor may be responsible for the costs of the crash.
Is There a Deadline to File a Drunk Driving Accident Claim in Columbus?
Yes. Columbus follows statutes of limitations set by Georgia state law and U.S. federal law. You could have up to two years to file your claim in many drunk driving accidents, per Ga. Code § 9-3-33.
However, there are exceptions where the deadline is much shorter. All crash victims should speak to a DUI accident lawyer in Columbus, GA, as soon as possible. Never risk losing your rights by waiting.
Georgia Law Sets a Deadline for Taking Legal Action
Georgia sets a statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits at two years. You may lose the right to pursue a lawsuit if you wait too long. Reach out to a DUI accident attorney in Columbus, GA, to learn more about the timeline you must follow if you are eligible to pursue a payout.
Families of Drunk Driving Accident Victims Can File a Wrongful Death Claim
Losing a loved one in a drunk driving accident can devastate the victim’s family. While no amount of money can bring your loved one back, some compensation can help your family manage bills and expenses.
By hiring a drunk driving accident lawyer serving Muscogee County, a legal team can oversee your wrongful death claim and bring in experts to investigate the cause of the accident.
An attorney can also help you assess your losses and fight to get you fair compensation for pre-death medical expenses, burial costs, loss of household income, and pain and suffering.
The Prevalence of DUI Crashes in Georgia
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3,699 people died in crashes involving intoxicated drivers in Georgia between 2003 and 2012. Furthermore, 1.4% of adults reported driving after drinking in the past 30 days.
The statistical report reveals important demographic information about the victim profile. For example, most victims in 2012 were within the 21-34 age group (5.8 per 100,000 population in 2012). Furthermore, the death rate by gender reveals a higher number of male victims, 4.9 per 100,000 population.
These findings highlight the need for continued efforts to prevent reckless driving and to promote safer driving practices among all motorists, particularly those in high-risk groups.
Talk to a Columbus Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer for Free
At John Foy & Associates, we aim to help people like you. Our drunk driving victim accident lawyers in Columbus, GA, work tirelessly on behalf of the injured party. In addition, we have the experience and resources to help you get the biggest financial recovery possible.
Don’t wait. Contact us or fill out the form to your right and get your FREE consultation today. We have over 20 years of experience helping the victims of DUI accidents. Unlike other law offices, we do not defend drunk drivers. We work only for the victims.