Drunk driving is a serious offense under Georgia law. The Insurance Information Institute (III) states that alcohol is a significant factor in most car accidents throughout the U.S. With the help of a lawyer, you can hold drunk drivers accountable for their actions and seek financial compensation.
Our drunk driving accident lawyers will provide you with quality legal services to help you file a claim. We will negotiate for the best settlement possible. Do not pay exorbitant expenses due to the negligence of others. Allow us to help you while you focus on your recovery. To get started at no risk to you, call us today at (404) 400-4000 and find out what we can do for you.
What Is Considered Drunk Driving?
According to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) §40-6-391, drunk driving is when the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) within a driver is .08 or higher. This means that anyone operating a motor vehicle at that BAC will get detained by the police. All drivers on the road have a responsibility to consume alcohol responsibly and avoid driving after drinking.
While being drunk is commonly associated with alcohol, you can also drive drunk under the influence of other substances. Prescription medicines, illegal drugs, or aerosols and glues all can impair the ability to drive safely. Even if the drunk driver has a BAC of 0.0%, they can still get in trouble for driving high or impaired.
What Damages Can I Recover from a Drunk Driving Claim?
There are two types of damages that you can recover after a drunk driver causes your accident. When you file a claim, you can pursue financial compensation for both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to the damages you sustain that cost a fixed monetary amount. They usually get calculated based on your receipts, invoices, bills, and other financial documents. It is essential to retain all records of your expenses, so everything gets accurately accounted for.
Non-economic damages do not have a fixed monetary value. Instead, they get assessed through severity. The more severe your non-economic damages are, the more that you can receive.
Typically a jury will award non-economic damages to the plaintiff, but if negotiations settle out of court, the insurance company will typically pay based on an agreed-upon amount. Our lawyers will help you account for every damage you have suffered and ensure that they all get included in your final settlement amount.
What Should I Do if I Have Been Injured in a Drunk Driving Accident?
After a drunk driving accident, it is imperative to do the following:
- Make sure you and others around you are okay.
- Call the police and file a report for the accident.
- Take pictures of the accident, your injuries, and the scene of the accident.
- If possible, get witness testimonies and record the information of everyone who saw your accident happen.
- If the drunk driver is coherent, get their information as well.
- Go to the hospital immediately and retain all medical records and expenses.
You should also contact a lawyer immediately. While it may seem like you have an iron-clad case with no caveats, the truth is that without legal representation, you could put yourself at a disadvantage when it comes to negotiation. Do not end up with a settlement less than what you deserve, and enlist the help of an experienced attorney.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My Drunk Driving Accident Injury?
A lawyer is beneficial after a drunk driving accident. They can help you understand the context of your accident under federal, state, and local laws. Filing a claim may seem simple, but the actual paperwork process, deadlines, and negotiations afterward can take a stressful toll on you.
Do not hinder your recovery. The last thing you need is to focus on a possible trial alone while still recovering from the injuries you received after the accident. Our lawyers will help you focus on reclaiming your health and well-being while we do what is necessary to help win your case.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for My Drunk Driving Accident Injury?
While it is evident that the drunk driver will ultimately get held responsible, there can be other parties involved as well that may share some fault in your accident. Aside from common external culprits such as vehicle defects, construction hazards, or poor road maintenance, the person who serves alcohol to the drunk driver can be at fault.
Dram shop laws in Georgia state that if a bartender or host of a party knowingly serves alcohol to a person who intends to drive, they are also liable for any accident that occurs. Bartenders and party hosts that serve alcohol to minors are also automatically liable under dram shop laws.
These laws can make it confusing on who you should file a claim for. A lawyer will help you sort through all of the parties involved and help you hold all those responsible for your accident accountable for their actions.
Do Insurance Companies Pay for Drunk Driving Accidents?
Yes, they do. It is a common misconception that insurance companies do not pay for drunk driving accidents because the accident was caused intentionally. While this is somewhat true, it does not take into account the whole picture. Yes, the drunk driver drove intoxicated intentionally, but they did not enter into an accident intentionally.
There are many instances where an insurance company will try to deny all responsibility for the accident and refuse to cover your damages. In this instance, you will need legal assistance to help you fight back and prove that the insurance companies owe you a proper settlement.
What Happens if a Drunk Driver Hits You?
When a drunk driver hits you, you could end up with serious injuries and damages that can change the way you live your life forever. When this happens, you need to hold the at-fault party accountable not only for justice on your behalf but to ensure that their behavior does not get repeated. The drunk driver must get punished for their actions.
After your accidents, you can pursue financial compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. However, drunk driving accidents fit the unique criteria to qualify for punitive damages. Punitive damages exist to act as both deterrent and punishment for an accident caused:
- Intentionally or with malice
- Under the pretenses of fraud
- With extreme negligence
After a drunk driver hits you, you have many legal options to consider. Our lawyers will help you understand them all and inform you of the best course of action to take.
How Many Accidents Are Caused by Drunk Driving?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drunk driving causes one death every 50 minutes. This equates to roughly 10,000 lives each year, and this is only for accidents that result in fatalities. These statistics do not include driving under the influence of other substances such as drugs and prescriptions.
The vast majority of drunk driving accidents also occur at night. This is usually due to people driving home after parties, a night out at the bar, or dinner. Regardless of the situation, during festive periods of the day or during holidays, drunk driving accidents increase and cause several damages that cost more than $44 billion a year.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Drunk Driving Accident Claim?
There is no set period in which your claim must get settled. No attorney can answer this question as every drunk driving case is unique and varies from person to person. As a general rule of thumb, you should expect negotiations for your claim to take anywhere from one to three months. The time you wait depends on various factors such as:
- Waiting for all of your medical treatment to conclude.
- Gathering all of the evidence necessary to build a strong case.
- The severity of the injuries you sustained.
Most insurance companies have no incentive to negotiate quickly. They will only move to resolve your settlement claim out of court if they know that your claim gets backed by strong evidence and an equally strong attorney. While the time to settle may vary, always remember that having an attorney by your side can speed up the process significantly.
Will My Drunk Driving Accident Claim Settle Out of Court?
The vast majority of claims will settle out of court. The insurance company does not want to run the risk of facing a jury and potentially having to pay for any additional costs. On your end, you may settle out of court for a multitude of reasons:
- You need money urgently.
- You want to avoid a long trial.
- The settlement offered to you fits your needs.
Regardless of why, you should never settle out of court unless you are absolutely certain that the settlement you will get will truly meet all of your damages properly. While court trials are notorious for taking a long time, sometimes it is best to hold out for a better settlement instead of accepting one right off the bat.
Going to trial may seem daunting, but it can benefit you greatly. The courts are not sympathetic towards drunk drivers and will more than likely side in your favor. Most insurance companies know this and will aim to avoid going to trial if possible. Even still, you should always make sure that you can afford the time and money it will take to go to trial.
What Is the Average Settlement for a Drunk Driving Accident?
The average settlement for drunk driving accidents is moderately high. In Georgia, all drivers must have insurance that:
- Covers up to $25,000 for bodily injury per person and $50,000 or more per incident.
- $25,000 or more to cover for any property damages.
With this in mind, you can be certain that you will, at the least, recover $25,000 after a drunk driving accident. The amount you can recover will depend highly on the insurance policy that the drunk driver has. If punitive damages get awarded, the settlement amount you receive could increase as well.
Generally, most drunk driving accidents settle somewhere around upwards of $80,000. This amount will cover all of the damages that you suffered. In more severe cases, some drunk driving accidents can receive up to $125,000 through a settlement. When you go over your case with your lawyer, they will identify all of the damages you have and will pursue the maximum amount possible.
Every accident is different. While there are no set guarantees for how much you can recover, you don’t have to go through your entire case with guesswork. Our lawyers will help you understand and evaluate the entirety of your accident and get you an accurate estimate of the compensation you can potentially receive.
How Long Do I Have to File a Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuit?
The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) §9-3-33 states that you have two years to file a claim for compensation after your accident. Two years seems like a lot of time, but it can go by very quickly. As time passes, evidence degrades, witnesses will forget what they saw, and your case as a whole weakens.
While you should aim to file relatively quickly, you should also wait until all of your affairs are in order. If you decide to file a claim early and settle early, you may end up with additional damages that went unaccounted for that you will now have to pay out of pocket. Once a settlement gets awarded, the at-fault party and the insurance company are no longer obligated to pay you any more compensation. The right time to file typically depends on:
- Waiting for your medical treatment to finish.
- After ensuring all damages get calculated.
- After building a strong case for your claim.
- Ensuring that your claim gets represented by a lawyer that can negotiate on your behalf.
Keeping up with all of the deadlines and paperwork can get exhausting. Our team will help you take care of that. You don’t have to face your legal battle alone. File at the right time within the deadline to yield the best settlement for your damages.
If the Driver Was Acquitted of a DUI Can I Still File a Lawsuit?
After an acquittal, you can still file a lawsuit against the drunk driver responsible for your accident. While a DUI conviction can greatly help your claim, it is not necessary to file one. Acquittals usually occur because:
- The breathalyzer was inaccurate or administered incorrectly.
- Their field sobriety test was done incorrectly.
- Instead of pleading guilty to DUI, they pleaded to a lesser offense.
The insurance companies may see the acquittal for drunk driving as a great piece of evidence to use to fight back against your claim. Still, our attorneys will help you fight back against their counterarguments and help you pursue compensation.
Personal injury lawsuits do not take place in criminal court. Instead, they get decided in civilian court. In a civilian court, the standards for evidence are considerably lower, and the evidence you gather and submit can help you win your case.
Even if the drunk driver did not get convicted for their crime, that still does not excuse them from liability for your damages. Do not feel like your case is over just because the criminal court did not work in your favor. You still have a strong chance to win your personal injury lawsuit.
How Is Fault Proven in a Drunk Driving Accident?
Our lawyers will help you prove the fault of the drunk driver by establishing these key factors:
- The driver responsible for your accident owed you a duty of care.
- That duty of care was not met due to their negligent action of driving intoxicated.
- Due to their drunk driving, your accident occurred.
- Through your accident, you received injuries and damages.
Also, remember that Georgia is an at-fault state. This means that you need to be less than 50% responsible for your accident to file a claim. Even if the drunk driver is obviously at fault, if you were also partially responsible, you might not be able to file a claim.
If you are less than 50% responsible, you can file a claim, but the percentage you are responsible for gets deducted from your settlement. The insurance company and the drunk driver’s defense may try and put more than half the blame onto you so you cannot file a claim. Be prepared to fight back and prove that it was their negligent actions, not yours, that caused your damages. Our lawyers will support you every step of the way.
Can a Driver Be Held Responsible for Being on Prescription Medication?
Prescription medications can impair the ability to drive. It doesn’t matter if drugs are prescribed by a doctor. Drugs are not side-effect or problem-free, and if taking them reduces motor skills then drivers should know better than to take them and operate any motor vehicle. If a driver causes your accident while on a prescription, they are responsible for any of your damages.
By far, the largest demographic that drives under the influence of prescription drugs are the elderly. Elderly individuals tend to be on prescriptions more than younger people. Due to mental decline and decreased ability to process medicine, their prescriptions may adversely impact them in ways they may not even realize.
Even though driving while on prescription medicines often occurs due to honest mistakes, that still is not an excuse. If an accident occurs, their insurance will still have to cover any of your damages. Like drinking responsibly, people need to take their medicine responsibly and avoid putting others at risk if there are any adverse side effects to the drug.
What Happens if the Drunk Driver Is Uninsured?
You mainly have two options after an uninsured drunk driver causes your accident. You can:
- File a claim to get the drunk driver to pay out of pocket
- File a claim with your own insurance.
Chances are if the drunk driver that hit you did so without insurance, then they probably won’t have enough to pay out of pocket for any of your damages. If they could not even afford insurance in the first place, there is no reason to expect them to be able to afford thousands of dollars worth of damages you could potentially accrue.
If the driver cannot afford to pay, you can file a claim with your own insurance through uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage will pay you a settlement if a driver without insurance causes your accident.
Drunk driving accident claims are already complex to navigate. Throwing in an uninsured driver on top of it all only makes things more difficult. With our lawyers, we will help you understand the complexities and figure out your next steps.