Drunk driving often leads to car accidents resulting in severe or fatal injuries. In 2010, approximately one-third of all traffic fatalities were caused by a vehicle operator under the influence of alcohol. In all, this accounts for around 30 deaths every day, or one every 48 minutes. Many more are seriously, even permanently, hurt in these vehicle crashes. Motorists under the influence often lose control of their vehicle or are incapable of adjusting to changing road and traffic conditions. As a result, they can suddenly collide with others at terrifying speeds.

WHO IS LIABLE IN CRASHES INVOLVING MOTORISTS UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL?

Anyone suspected of drunk driving and causing an accident will be responsible for their involvement and injuries sustained by others. Even in cases where comparative negligence is suspect, an impaired motorist will at least be partly culpable.

This is because motorists under the influence are in breach of a reasonable duty of care. All vehicle operators are held to a duty of care, which requires all drivers to avoid decisions that would put others at risk. This includes maintaining safe speeds, adhering to all traffic laws, maintaining the vehicle properly, and remaining vigilant behind the wheel. Drivers under the influence of alcohol or other drugs are considered to be in breach of this last stipulation as the substance robs a person’s ability to stay attentive. In many cases, an impaired motorist will also be in violation of traffic laws that further cement their culpability.

WHAT SHOULD THE VICTIM DO IF THEY SUSTAIN INJURIES IN A VEHICLE CRASH?

Anyone harmed in a wreck should seek medical attention immediately. It is the authorities’ job to determine if the other motorist was impaired or not, and their findings will be in an accident report. During the treatment process, the victim should keep a record of their injuries and the treatment they have received. It is also important to keep a record of all the doctors involved in the victim’s recovery as their testimony may be necessary in a contested case. The victim’s injuries and medical expenses will represent the bulk of the victim’s demand package, an official financial demand from the responsible parties.

The police report should make it clear if any motorist was under the influence of alcohol. Police testimony is often the single most important piece of information in these cases. A victim is also more likely to have favorable outcome if the impaired motorist has previous DUI or DWI convictions or arrests, as most DUI and DWI convictions involve repeat offenders.

When drunk driving leads to car accidents, the injuries can be devastating. It is the victim’s and their lawyer’s responsibility to demonstrate the scope of these injuries. If the victim is permanently disabled, too hurt to work, disfigured or harassed by chronic pain, they may be entitled to lost wages or additional awards due to grievous suffering. The victim’s medical records, presented clearly, will help make this clear.