Drunk driving is a serious problem that can lead to severe injuries and death. In 2019, there were 353 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in Georgia, about 24 percent of the state’s total traffic fatalities for the year. Prior to that, 3,421 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes between 2008 and 2018. Many more suffered injuries due to impaired driving.
If you or a loved one has been hurt due to the actions of an impaired driver, you may be struggling with medical bills, unable to work, and suffering from the trauma of your accident. Just figuring out how to pay for your treatment can be a struggle. The drunk driver may have been charged with a crime because of the crash, but that does nothing to help you pay your bills, secure medical treatment, repair your vehicle, and put your life back together. For that, you need the assistance of an Atlanta drunk driving lawyer who can explain your options, including pursuing a civil case against the impaired driver.
If a drunk driver has harmed you or a loved one, call the CEO Lawyer today for a free consultation to learn more about how to put your life back together. The CEO lawyer and his injury and accident attorney team work on a contingency basis, which means you don’t have to pay anything if you don’t win your case. You have nothing to lose by calling (833) 254-2923 to discuss the details of your situation.
What About Car Insurance?
Your car insurance will be unlikely to pay anything because the accident was not your fault. That leaves the drunk driver’s insurance policy. By state law, motorists are required to have $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person and $50,000 per collision. You can buy more coverage, but since this is not required and the premiums will be higher, many people don’t do so. Insurance carriers are not allowed to refuse coverage due to drunk driving, but they may refer to pay punitive damages. (Punitive damages are awarded in some cases where the defendant’s actions are considered especially egregious, with the intent to punish the offender. In many cases, they are not awarded anyway.)
If you’re currently facing a mound of medical bills for your accident injuries, you can probably see where this is going. The other driver’s insurance may be insufficient to cover your medical expenses, let alone your lost wages from missing work, car repairs, pain and suffering, and other issues caused by the accident. And that’s assuming the drunk driver was insured. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, your own policy may cover some of your damages, but again you may run into policy limits.
If you’re struggling to pay for treatment, car repairs, and other expenses, the best course of action is to contact a drunk driving attorney in Atlanta and ask for a free consultation. They can walk you through the options for pursuing a claim and getting the compensation you deserve. Depending on the particulars of your accident, there may be several options:
Your attorney may negotiate with the insurance company to get a larger settlement if there is sufficient coverage. They may also negotiate with the insurance carrier if they are refusing to pay your claim for some reason (not uncommon with insurance companies).
If there is not sufficient coverage, you may file a civil claim against the drunk driver.
If the driver was a minor, you might file a claim against their parent/s or legal guardian.
In some less common situations, you may also have a claim against a business or homeowner. For example, a bar or restaurant may have overserved a patron who later drove drunk. Or a homeowner might allow their teenager to have an unsupervised party, at which another minor gets drunk then drives off. We’ll talk more about these “social host liability” laws later.
Proving Negligence and Fault in Court
In most personal injury cases, the plaintiff (the person seeking compensation) must demonstrate that the defendant was negligent and at fault for the accident. This may seem clear-cut – the other driver was drunk, of course, it was their fault. Right?
In many cases, this is true, but it still needs to be proven in court. There may also be another wrinkle – comparative negligence. Georgia is a comparative fault state, which means that if the plaintiff is found to be more than 49 percent at fault for the accident, they won’t receive any compensation. If they are found to be partially responsible by less than 50 percent, their award will be reduced by the amount they are found responsible for. So if you are found to be 20 percent responsible for the crash, your compensation will be reduced by 20 percent.
Now, you’re probably wondering how you could be 20 percent responsible when the other driver was drunk and crashed into you. Again, in many cases, the plaintiff has no responsibility. However, the other driver’s insurance company will be looking for an excuse not to pay your claim, and the other driver’s attorney will be looking for ways to defend them. It is not uncommon for the insurance company or the defendant’s legal team to look for ways to blame the plaintiff. Sometimes they may uncover that you also made a mistake – maybe you were going a few miles over the speed limit, maybe one of your lights was out, etc. They may claim this contributed to the accident.
Fortunately, they will still need to prove that claim in court. In many cases, we find that the plaintiff’s actions had nothing to do with the crash. For example, having a headlight out has nothing to do with another driver rear-ending your car.
Even if your actions did contribute to the accident, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t receive any compensation. The jury may not be very sympathetic to a drunk driver. They may find that you were only 10 or 20 percent responsible for an accident if you were going a few miles over the speed limit. If this happens, you will still be entitled to most of the full recovery. On the other hand, if you were vastly exceeding the speed limit or driving recklessly to the point that even a sober driver likely couldn’t have avoided the crash, the jury may find you were mostly at fault, and you will get nothing.
It’s also important to prove that the other driver was under the influence. Again, this may seem obvious if the police report states they had a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08% or more. However, in this case, the driver will probably be charged with DUI, and the attorney for their criminal case may argue that the test was inaccurate, the testing equipment wasn’t properly maintained, the chain of custody on any blood samples was poor, and other common DUI defenses. If the driver is found guilty anyway, this will be helpful for your civil case. However, if they aren’t found guilty, or if their BAC results are excluded from evidence in the trial, that doesn’t necessarily mean your civil case is doomed. The burden of proof for a civil case is lower than for a criminal case.
Either way, your attorney will need to gather evidence against the other driver. This may include doing some or all of the following:
Interview witnesses to the accident who can explain what happened. These can be people who saw the accident or those who saw the driver shortly before the accident and can attest that they were drunk.
Looking over photos of accident damage to your vehicle.
Studying the police report on the crash, which usually includes info on field sobriety tests.
Listening to the 911 call or calls.
Going over any admissible evidence from the criminal trial, such as BAC tests.
Getting your recollection of the accident. In particular, they may ask if you recall seeing the other driver weaving or driving erratically prior to the crash.
What If the Other Driver Was Under the Legal Limit?
If the BAC was legally obtained and admissible, it could be used in the civil trial even if the BAC was lower than 0.08.
What About Evidence in Social Host Liability Claims?
If you are pursuing a claim against a business or homeowner on the grounds that they served or sold alcohol to someone who was noticeably drunk, you will need to prove that they did so knowing both that the person was drunk and that they were likely to drive soon. Often this can be difficult, as it is hard for a bartender or owner to know how all their patrons plan on getting home. Many establishments have policies of taking patrons’ keys if they drink too much and strongly promote calling a cab or ride-share.
This applies to homeowners as well. Let’s say that someone’s teenager throws a party, breaks into the liquor cabinet, and all their friends get drunk. Then one drives away from the party. If this teenager causes an accident, you can’t sue the parents if they genuinely didn’t know about the party or drinking. However, if the parents knew their minor child planned to offer alcohol to another minor – even just one other person – and you can prove it, then you might be able to sue the parents under Georgia’s social host liability laws.
Evidence in social host liability claims is usually in the form of witness testimony, such as from other people at a party or bar who observed how drunk the driver was. In some cases, social media posts may also be used as evidence. There are often multiple people posting at parties, and the driver may appear quite intoxicated in one of these videos uploaded shortly before an accident.
In the event that your claim is successful, the other driver’s insurance will still be expected to pay the claim according to the limits of the policy. However, you may collect additional and punitive damages from the social host.
When the chips are down, you need a dedicated and inspired attorney like Ali Awad on your side. He and the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm team will fight aggressively to uncover the evidence and legal reasoning needed to improve your drunk driving claim’s chance of success. Contact us online or call (833) 254-2923 today.
Find Out What Your Case Is Worth Here
Tell Us More About Your Injury Below So That We Can Get You The Most Money
All Fields Required *
Frequently Asked Questions
After a personal injury, you're bound to have legal questions. The CEO Lawyer Ali Awad can provide you with answers to these questions, just as he's given answers to his millions of curious social media followers. Take a look at some of the most common personal injury law questions for general information, and then reach out to one of our seasoned attorneys for specific guidance on your case!
To quickly resolve matters following an accident, insurance companies will offer you less than you deserve in compensation for your injuries. Many victims feel pressured to accept these offers as the bills begin to pile up, but that is rarely a good idea. The insurance company is looking to protect its bottom line; and will offer injured victims less than they deserve. An experienced personal injury attorney understands how to negotiate with the insurance company and can look out for your best interests by getting you the compensation you deserve after an injury. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, it is important to avoid negotiating or providing recorded statements to the insurance company without first seeking help from a qualified personal injury attorney.
Do You Have a Personal Injury Case?
The best way to determine if you have a personal injury case is to speak with a knowledgeable attorney. Our legal professionals have the expertise to evaluate your case and determine a strong legal strategy so that you can obtain the greatest amount of compensation possible under the law. We will enlist investigators, assistants, and other specialists to collect accident reports, speak with witnesses to your accident, and put together a plan. While you focus on your physical recovery, we will remain committed to fighting for the compensation that you deserve.
Georgia's Personal Injury & Accident Firm
Accident victims have a limited time to file a personal injury lawsuit. This time period is referred to as the statute of limitations, and in Atlanta, it lasts only two years. This means that if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you have only two years to pursue a personal injury suit. If you wait too long to reach out to an experienced attorney, you might be forever barred from seeking the compensation you deserve.
What to Expect From Your Initial Consultation With a Personal Injury Attorney?
During your initial consultation with CEO Lawyer team, we will go over the important details of your personal injury accident, which include the nature and extent of your injuries, how your injuries have impacted your ability to earn a paycheck, the cost of your medical treatment, and whether further medical treatment will be required. We will answer any questions you might have, as well, in regards to our experience, our track record of success, and what to expect from the legal process.
Many personal injury victims wonder if they will be able to afford the legal fees required to pursue a lawsuit. CEO Lawyer injury and accident attorneys will not ask for any type of upfront fee unless we are successful in obtaining compensation for you. That means that if you have been harmed in a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall accident, defective product accident, or any other type of personal injury accident, you can absolutely afford to contact our law office today for assistance. In fact, you cannot afford to wait. Reach out today.
We understand that some accident victims might have already obtained the assistance of an attorney but may be dissatisfied with the services provided. We are standing by and prepared to help you change legal representation, regardless of where you are in the process.
Speak to an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has been injured in any type of personal injury accident, you should not hesitate to speak with the experienced attorneys at CEO Lawyer personal injury law firm. Call, email, or fill out our online contact form today so that we can begin helping you pursue the compensation you deserve.