If you or a loved one has been injured in a drunk driving accident, you have rights. Under Georgia law, you can seek financial recovery for your injuries, including your medical bills and lost pay. However, it is important to speak to a Decatur drunk driving accident attorney as soon as you can.
John Foy & Associates has been helping DUI accident victims get back on their feet for the past 20 years. Our firm only represents accident victims – we never take the side of drunk drivers or insurance companies. Our number one goal is to get the best possible financial recovery for our clients, so they can begin the healing process without the burden of additional financial stress.
What Is Considered a DUI in Decatur?
In the City of Decatur and throughout Georgia, DUI means driving while impaired by alcohol or any other substance. Any substance that can affect your judgment or your nervous system can also affect your ability to drive safely. We commonly see DUI cases involving:
- Prescription drugs
- Over-the-counter drugs that can cause sleepiness
- Illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin
If the police suspect that someone is driving under the influence, they usually administer a chemical test to confirm the presence of alcohol or drugs. Breath or blood tests can determine whether a person has more than the legal limit of .08% blood alcohol content (or about two drinks worth). Blood and urine tests can also test for the presence of a wide variety of drugs.
However, even if no test was performed, a driver can be convicted of DUI. From a victim’s standpoint, a DUI charge or conviction makes it much easier to gain substantial compensation for their injuries.
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What Should I Do Immediately After a Drunk Driving Accident in Decatur?
Your first priority is to get emergency medical treatment for yourself and anyone else who might have been hurt in the accident. If you are not badly injured, you may then be in a position to do a few other things to protect yourself legally, while you are still at the accident scene. We recommend that you:
- Call the police. Even if there don’t seem to be injuries that require an ambulance, a police report is an important piece of evidence in your personal injury and vehicle damage claims. Stay at the scene until officers arrive and then give them your version of what happened.
- Tell the police you think the other driver is under the influence. Explain the reason for your suspicions, even if you’re not sure you’re right. Police officers are skilled at detecting signs of intoxication or drug use and they can administer Breathalyzer or field sobriety tests that may confirm your suspicions. The driver may be arrested for DUI at the accident scene.
- Take a video of your conversation with the other driver. If you think the other driver is intoxicated, a video recording of your interaction with them can clearly show the other driver’s impairment. Video evidence can be very convincing to a jury.
- Watch the other driver. Intoxicated drivers often try to get rid of incriminating evidence, throwing away cups, bottles or drugs, or using eye drops to clear up red eyes. Don’t get involved, but do keep your camera handy and record anything you see.
- Talk to witnesses. People who stopped to help may have seen the other driver’s behavior immediately before the accident. Ask people at the scene what they saw, and write down their contact information.
Most importantly, get in touch with a drunk driving victim lawyer in Decatur right away. DUI accidents can involve complicated evidence, and it is unlikely that the insurance company will offer you what your claim is really worth.
What Am I Entitled to Recover in a DUI Case in Decatur?
Decatur follows Georgia law which permits you to recover ALL of your costs and damages from a car accident if you were not at fault. This might include:
- Your doctor and hospital bills
- Earnings you lost if you missed work as a result of the accident
- The cost of repairing your car or replacing a totaled car
- Damages for pain, suffering and other serious losses
These “compensatory damages” are available to victims of all types of vehicle accidents. But if your accident was caused by another driver’s DUI, you may also be able to recover additional sums as “punitive damages.”
This is money awarded by the court to punish the drunk driver for his or her behavior. Punitive damages help victims financially, but they also send a strong message that Georgia will not tolerate driving under the influence.
Punitive damages can greatly increase the amount of financial recovery you are entitled to. We regularly see DUI cases that are worth $100,000 or more.
Is the Law Different If I Was a Passenger in the Drunk Driver’s Car?
Passengers have the same rights as any other accident victim. It was the driver’s decision to drive while impaired, and the driver must be held responsible for the consequences of that decision.
However, passengers sometimes have a harder time making their case in the local courts. For example, if you knew the driver was intoxicated and got in the car anyway, the courts may be inclined to award you less money.
For this reason, we recommend that you speak with a Decatur drunk driving victim lawyer for advice in this situation. Georgia has laws that reduce your compensation amounts by how much negligence you contributed to an accident, including getting into a car with a drunk driver.
Will Their Criminal Case Hold Up My Settlement?
Not likely. You do not have to wait for their criminal case to finish before you file your civil lawsuit against a drunk driver’s insurance company. However, the plea they give at their arraignment will have consequences for what we need to prove to the court, should your case go to trial.
The insurance company will also be keenly interested in how they plead. If the driver pleads guilty, then the insurance company has little room to stand on. A no contest plea, however, could give them more confidence to push back against our settlement demands.
What If My Loved One Died Because of a Drunk Driver?
Sadly, many people die in drunk driving accidents each year. It is quite possible to sue a drunk driver under Georgia’s wrongful death laws. However, you must have the necessary standing to sue on the behalf of your dead relative.
Under Georgia law, three groups are allowed to sue for wrongful death. The first is the surviving spouse or children of the deceased. The second is the parents of the deceased. The third is the personal representative of the estate on behalf of the next of kin.
If you meet any of these qualifications and your loved one died due to a drunk driver, our drunk driving victim accident attorneys in Decatur would like to speak with you about the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Talk to a Decatur Drunk Driving Accident Attorney for Free
A person who drives under the influence is making a bad choice, and you shouldn’t have to pay for it. John Foy & Associates will give you a free consultation to talk about your case and help you get the financial recovery you’re entitled to. Call us or fill out the form to your right and get your FREE consultation today.