Despite the aggressive efforts by state legislatures to punish drunk driving offenders, drunk driving is still a problem in the United States and the state of Georgia. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, there were an estimated 10,497 fatalities due to car crashes involving a drunk driver in 2016. This estimate indicates that there is a fatality every 50 minutes due to a drunk driving accident in the United States, and in Georgia specifically, there were 3,699 people killed in car accidents involving a drunk driver from 2003 to 2012, according to the Center for Disease Control. In fact, Georgia residents are killed at a rate of three people per 100,000 members of our state’s population with adults ages 21 to 34 being the most effect at a death rate of 5.8 per 100,000.
Even if the accident is non-fatal, it can still place a high financial burden on an injured driver. Drunk driving accidents cost the United States $44 billion in 2010 due to losses in productivity, workplace losses, legal and court expenses, etc. However, this estimate does not include intangible losses due to deaths and injuries. When these variables are factored in, drunk driving accidents in 2010 cost the U.S. over $201 billion. So, drunk driving accidents are more common than we would care to admit and extremely costly to those involved. As such, the question then becomes “What legal recourse do I have against a drunk driver who causes a car accident?”
Drunk Driving in Atlanta, GA
As most of us are aware, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious crime in the state of Georgia pursuant to O.C.G.A. §40-6-391. If convicted, a drunk driver could face harsh sentences that include fines, jail time, or a combination of both. Moreover, Georgia’s implied consent law, O.C.G.A. §40-5-55, requires drivers to submit to submit a chemical test or tests of their blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances to determine the presence of drugs or alcohol in their system.
If a drunk driver refuses, their license will be promptly suspended for a year due to the provisions of O.C.G.A. § 40-5-67.1, which is why drivers usually do submit to a test if requested by the police. However, despite these provision of criminal law, Georgia’s comparative negligence laws do not automatically shift fault if a driver is intoxicated or if the accident occurred during the commission of a crime.
Comparative Negligence Laws in Atlanta, GA
As attorneys that practice personal injury law in Atlanta, we have seen personal injury claims come to many different conclusion some of which follow an illogical line of reasoning such as the rights of a drunk driver. O.C.G.A. §51-12-33 establishes Georgia’s comparative negligence law. Under this statute, it is possible for both drivers to share responsibility for causing an accident. Being found to have been partially responsible for an accident can affect the amount of money you recover, and this statute is of particular interest in a case involving a drunk driver.
The drunk driver can and usually will try to argue that the accident would have occurred regardless of whether they were intoxicated or not. This tactic can be used to try demonstrate that you were partially at fault for the accident, that you both were equally responsible for the accident, or that you were completely at fault for the accident. However, this is obviously an uphill battle for the drunk driver, but it does demonstrate how important it is for you to seek the assistance of a personal injury lawyer in Atlanta.
Drunk Driver Settlements in Atlanta, GA
Drunk drivers are not in the clear by any means after a car accident, and the law does provide special provisions that can allow you to seek an appropriate amount of compensation for your injuries and more in some instances.
From a settlement perspective, drunk driving accidents tend to be the type of accident where you can seek punitive damages, depending on the facts of the case. Punitive damages, unlike compensatory damages, are awarded to punish a negligent party and deter them from repeating the same behavior in the future. To successfully secure an award of punitive damages, your personal injury lawyer will have to prove through clear and convincing evidence that the drunk driver’s actions showed willful misconduct, wantonness, or a presumption of conscious indifference to consequences. Punitive damages combined with compensatory damages in a case can in some instances substantially increase the amount of your recovery.
Personal Injury Lawyer in Atlanta, GA
At Cambre and Associates, our team of personal injury lawyers stand ready to assist you with your drunk driving accident, and we are dedicated to reaching the best possible resolution to your case. Our personal injury attorneys have been providing aggressive representation to drunk driving victims for years, and we are ready to help you. So give our office call today for a free case evaluation.