Everyone knows that drunk driving isn’t safe. Thanks to years of education and activism by groups like MADD, drunk driving is now finally viewed as a serious crime and awareness is at an all time high. Unfortunately, drunk driving remains terribly common in Columbus. In fact, across Georgia, nearly 1 in 3 traffic deaths involve driving under the influence. If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident involving a drunk driver, you have rights.
At John Foy & Associates, we can help you. We understand that the time after a serious accident is often frightening, painful and stressful. We also know that medical bills can pile up quickly. We can help you file a claim to recover the full costs of your medical care, car repairs, lost work time and other losses—plus additional money. We have over 20 years of experience helping the victims of drunk driving accidents, and unlike other law offices we do not defend drunk drivers. We work only for the victims.
Contact John Foy & Associates at 706-400-4000 and get a free consultation with one of our Columbus drunk driving lawyers.
What counts as driving under the influence in Columbus?
The legal definition of drunk driving is much broader than what most people think. You may have heard the phrase, “Buzzed driving is drunk driving.” From a legal perspective this is true. Georgia’s legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is just 0.08%. Many adults can hit this legal limit even if they’ve had just two drinks. That means that almost anyone who gets behind the wheel after consuming alcohol likely has some level of impairment and may be breaking the law.
But 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.”
What should I do if I (or a loved one) was injured by a drunk driver?
Remember that the other driver will do everything possible to avoid facing the consequences for their actions. We urge anyone injured by a drunk driver to take steps to gather evidence and protect yourself. Some simple steps you can take include:
- Call the police immediately. Many drivers will offer to resolve the accident without getting the police or insurance companies involved. But getting a police report can strengthen your claim. Call 911 immediately after the accident.
- Tell 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 even a Breathalyzer test on the spot.
- Take a video. If you have a phone, start recording video before you approach the other driver. Record your conversation with them. An impaired driver will often show 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 other at the scene if they saw what happened, and exchange information with witnesses so you can contact them later.
- Get medical attention. Even if your injuries seem minor at first, you need to go to a doctor as soon as possible after the accident and get a diagnosis.
Most importantly, call a drunk driving accident lawyer. Drunk driving laws are complex and it’s very difficult to win your claim on your own. When you call John Foy & Associates, we will work to make your case as strong as possible. We’ll pull the criminal record and driving record of the person who injured you, and see if they have a history of past DUI convictions. Many drunk drivers are repeat offenders.
What am I entitled to recover if I was injured by a drunk driver in Columbus?
As the victim, you have a right to recover far more in a drunk driving case than you would in other car accident cases. In many cases you could be awarded tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The financial recoveries in drunk driving cases are large because judges in the City of Columbus can award “punitive damages.” Punitive damages are an extra financial award that the drunk driver has to pay to 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 of 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. In many cases it’s advisable to wait until the drunk driver 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 lawyer.
What if I knowingly got into the car with a drunk driver? Do I still have a claim?
Yes. The drunk driver is at fault even if you were their passenger, and even if you knew or suspected they were inebriated at the time you got into the car. They are still the ones who broke the law and caused the accident.
However, the local courts may view your case differently if you knew the driver was drunk. When you call us, we can walk you through the possible outcomes of your case and help you understand your legal options. We believe in helping accident victims and we will not let your legal rights be taken away from you.
Who is responsible for the costs of the accident? Can a bar, restaurant or the host of a party be held responsible?
Normally the intoxicated driver bears the full responsibility on their own. However, there are times when this is not true:
- Bartenders, servers and restaurant owners have a legal duty not to serve patrons who already appear intoxicated. If they overserved the driver, they may be responsible for the costs.
- Anyone who provides alcohol to a juvenile under the age of 21 is breaking 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 accident.
Is there a deadline to file a claim in a drunk driving accident?
Yes, the deadline is known as the statute of limitations. Columbus follows statutes of limitations set by both Georgia state law and US federal law. In many drunk driving accidents, you could have up to two years to file your claim. However, there are exceptions where the deadline is much shorter. We urge all accident victims to speak to a lawyer immediately after the accident. Never risk losing your rights by waiting.
Talk to a Columbus Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer for Free
At John Foy & Associates, our mission is to help people like you. We work tirelessly on behalf of accident victims, and we have the experience and resources to help you get the biggest financial recovery possible. Don’t wait. Call us at 706-400-4000 or fill out the form to your right and get your FREE consultation today.