Our nation has made a lot of progress in reducing drunk driving, but DUI accidents remain common in Athens and across Georgia. Statewide, approximately 3700 people were killed by drunk driving in a 10 year period, and a third of all traffic deaths involve DUI. If you have been the victim of a car accident caused by DUI, you are not alone. You have a right to recover all of your costs, including 100% of your medical bills. You should speak to an Athens drunk driving accident lawyer immediately.
John Foy & Associates can help. Our firm has spent over 20 years helping DUI victims. We always side with the victim, never the drunk driver or the insurance company. We started out as a small local firm and have worked our way up to become one of the largest, most successful and respected personal injury firms in the state. Let us give you a free consultation and help you understand your legal options. Call us at 706-400-4000 and get your free consultation today.
How is DUI defined in Athens?
By state law, in the City of Athens DUI includes anyone who is driving while impaired by a substance. The substance could be almost anything, such as:
- Prescription drugs
- Over the counter medication like cough syrup/drowsy formula cold medicine
- Illegal drugs like marijuana, ecstasy, or cocaine
If the substance affects the driver’s nervous system, their muscles or their ability to control a vehicle, driving under its influence is illegal. Of course, it can be hard to determine whether a particular driver was impaired or not. That’s why law enforcement will often use a breath test or blood test to evaluate their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Anyone with a BAC of .08% or higher is considered to be driving under the influence. Similarly, a blood or urine test can confirm the presence of various drugs in the system.
If I was hit by a drunk driver in Athens, what do I do?
The most important thing to do in any accident is to get medical attention for yourself or anyone else who is seriously injured. If it’s possible, however, we recommend taking certain basic steps at the accident scene to protect your legal rights as well:
- Always call the police. A police report is essential to making a strong claim, especially if you suspect DUI. Do not listen to a driver who says they’d rather settle this privately without involving insurance or the police.
- Tell police if you suspect DUI. You don’t have to be 100% certain. Tell the police what makes you think the other driver is intoxicated and let them handle it. Police have special training to look for signs of intoxication or drug use. They can also ask the drive to perform field sobriety tests or even take a roadside breath test.
- Make a video. Anytime you suspect DUI, pull out your phone and make a video of the other driver’s behavior. You can also video record your conversation with them. This could become crucial evidence later that shows slurred speech, stumbling, poor balance or coordination, red eyes and other telltale signs.
- Watch for dirty tricks. DUI drivers will often try to dispose of evidence. Watch out for them emptying any cups or bottles, throwing away drugs, or hiding paraphernalia. Get this in your video or alert officers. They may also try to take eye drops or mouth wash to cover up signs of impairment.
- Talk to witnesses. Talk to bystanders and ask them for their contact information. Even if they didn’t see the accident, they may be witnesses to the intoxicated behavior of the other driver.
Most importantly, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. Any car accident claim that involves a suspected drunk driver is complex and you need professional legal help.
What kind of recovery can I win in a claim against a DUI driver?
In Athens, the victim of any car accident is allowed to recover all of their costs, including:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages/lost work time
- Car repairs
- Financial awards for serious losses or suffering
But DUI cases are different. If the other driver was impaired you may be awarded far more money than you would with a sober driver. This is because you can also see “punitive damages.” Punitive damages are extra money that the drunk driver is forced to pay to the victims, both to make up for the severity of what they did and also to send a strong message to others not to drive drunk.
It’s not uncommon for us to see DUI car accident victims receive awards of $100,000 or more.
Do I still have a claim if I was riding in the car with the drunk driver?
Absolutely. Passengers are not responsible for the actions of a driver, and you have the same rights as any other victim in the accident. The law allows you to recover all of your costs, even if you knew the driver was impaired. It was their decision, not yours, that ultimately led to the accident.
However, your case may be seen differently by the local courts. Judges may feel that you “knew better” and juries may have less sympathy to your claim. You can still make a financial recovery, but it may be less than it would be otherwise—especially if you don’t have a good lawyer. We recommend talking to an attorney who understands DUI car accident claims as early in the process as possible.
Talk to an Athens Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer for Free
One car accident can have lifelong consequences. That doesn’t mean you should be left holding the bill. Let John Foy & Associated help. We will sit down with you for a free consultation and help you understand your legal options—with no obligation to proceed. Call us at 706-400-4000 or fill out the form to your right and get your FREE consultation today.