There are many reasons why hiring a dram shop lawyer is a smart move if you’ve been involved in an accident. Car accidents involving drunk drivers often present a more complicated set of legal challenges than an average accident case.
Collecting and preserving evidence is vital to proving that the negligent driver was in fact under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. If the driver was drinking at a restaurant or bar, there will be multiple witnesses that were not at the scene of the crash to depose. On top of the complex medical needs of the victims, there may also be punitive damages involved. Given the many layers of evidence and multiple parties that may be needed to prove negligence on the part of the driver, only an experienced dram shop lawyer should be engaged in litigating a crash that involves a drunk driver.
The Legal Definition of Drunk Driving
Legally speaking, a driver of a car, truck, or motorcycle is drunk when his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) measures .08 grams per deciliter or higher. It is illegal in all 50 states and in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to drive with this level of alcohol in your system.
How much alcohol you must consume to exceed the legal limit varies based on your weight and individual tolerance as well as whether you are eating food as you are drinking. That said, a 160-pound man who consumes four drinks over the course of an hour will likely be at or beyond the legal limit.
With a BAC of .08, a driver’s ability to navigate the road is severely impaired. Balance, speech, vision, and reaction time may all be hindered. In addition, there is generally an impairment of perception, judgment, reasoning, and the ability to detect danger.
Drunk Driving Statistics
Across the United States, more than 10,000 people are killed every year by drunk drivers with a BAC of at least .08 g/dL according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). This represents around 30 percent of the total number of traffic deaths per year in the United States. This is equivalent to 28 people killed every day by an intoxicated driver, which amounts to one death every 51 minutes.
The NHTSA reports that in 2016, there were 369 motor vehicle fatalities in Pennsylvania in which the driver was under the influence of alcohol; the majority of these involved a BAC of at least .08. Twenty-eight percent of accidents where the legal BAC was exceeded resulted in at least one fatality in that same year. A comparison of statistics of the years 2007 and 2016 indicate a slight downward trend of motor vehicle deaths involving an intoxicated driver.
Steps To Take After a DUI Accident
Time is of the essence following an accident with a drunk driver. The effects of alcohol will lessen by the hour, so it is important to call the police immediately so that they can begin an investigation.
If you and your passengers are able, assess the scene and collect as much evidence as you can by taking photos and videos. If one or more witnesses are on hand, you may wish to ask them to collect such evidence if you are incapacitated or disoriented. When the authorities arrive, try to ensure that all witnesses provide statements while the events are fresh in their minds.
It is vital to seek medical treatment after the crash, even if you’re not experiencing any pain or other symptoms. You may be in shock, or you may have injuries that only become obvious hours or days after the crash. A doctor’s evaluation will be essential to obtaining the best possible settlement.
Finally, you should consult an experienced dram shop lawyer lawyer as soon as possible, preferably on the day of the crash. A reliable dram shop attorney will see that all relevant evidence is preserved and will assist you in dealing with insurance claims.
What Compensation From Your Car Accident Will Cover
A skilled dram shop lawyer will be able to recover compensation for a wide variety of injuries and damage sustained as a result of a drunk driving accident, from property damage to emotional distress. If you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, you must be repaid for any medical bills you incur, including:
- Physical therapy and rehab
An experienced dram shop lawyer will also prove your need for future medical expenses as well as lost wages and loss of earning capacity and will account for those in any settlement that is proposed.
If you require counseling due to the distress you experienced, you should be compensated for those services as well. Punitive damages for the pain and suffering you have experienced should also be accounted for. If you’ve lost a spouse or a partner, you may also sue for loss of consortium.
Dram Shop Attorneys Who Get Results
An accident involving a drunk driver can be absolutely devastating. Not only are you left with the physical scars, but even worse, it is difficult to deal with the idea that the crash itself was avoidable and that another person’s irresponsible and negligent choices led to your suffering, or even the loss of a loved one.
A drunk driver should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. The attorneys of Donaghue & Labrum have been representing victims of drunk drivers for three decades, and are experts at navigating the law as it pertains to drunk driving. We understand the pain involved for you and your family, and are committed to securing the best possible compensation so that you can begin to put your life back together. We offer a free consultation to car accident victims, whether in one of our convenient Media or West Chester locations, or even in your own home if you prefer – contact Donaghue & Labrum today.