Ellenwood DUI Injury Lawyer

Ellenwood DUI Injury Lawyer

$225,000 

DUI Accidents

$300,000 

Car Accidents

$221,000 

Work Injury

Ellenwood DUI Injury Lawyer 

Because of the many people who are killed or injured by drunk drivers each year, Georgia has strict laws and penalties aimed at reducing drunk driving accidents. Despite these laws, however, accidents caused by driving under the influence (DUI) continue to be a serious problem in Ellenwood and the Metro Atlanta area. 

Unfortunately, recovering compensation for a DUI accident can be more complicated than in a typical negligence claim because of the additional factors involved. For example, in most negligence cases, the plaintiff may only have a claim against the driver who caused the accident. But in a DUI accident case, the plaintiff may also have a claim against the person or company that served the driver alcohol, such as a bar, restaurant, or party host.  

To recover full compensation, the plaintiff should identify all possible defendants and find all applicable insurance policies. The plaintiff’s damages may be much higher than in a regular negligence case because drunk drivers often cause more severe injuries by driving erratically or at high speeds. 

Because victims of DUI accidents may seek punitive as well as compensatory damages, it is important to collect the evidence necessary to prove intoxication, including breathalyzer or blood tests and other documentation. At The Millar Law Firm, our attorneys have been handling complex DUI accident cases in Ellenwood for almost 30 years and know how to recover maximum compensation for injured victims. 

There Are Many Ways a Driver Can Be DUI 

Under Georgia law, there are numerous ways that a driver can be “under the influence,” and the criteria are set out in O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391. Under this statute, it is a criminal offense to drive or be in physical control of a vehicle if you: 

Highway sign reads: report drunk drivers - Call nine-one-one

  • Have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher, 
  • Have a BAC of .04 percent or higher while driving a commercial vehicle
  • Have a BAC of .02 percent or higher and are under 21, 
  • Are under the influence of any alcohol, drug, or controlled substance (including prescription or over-the-counter medications) when your use makes it “less safe” for you to drive, or 
  • Have any amount of illegal drugs in your blood or urine. 

Note that under this statute, you can still be charged with DUI even if your BAC is below the specified limit. You can also be convicted of DUI if your BAC meets the legal limit even if your driving was not actually impaired. 

Examples of illegal drugs include marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and Ecstasy. Common prescription medications that can cause impairment may include opioids (e.g., Oxycontin, Vicodin, Morphine), Benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax, Valium, Ativan), muscle relaxants (e.g., Soma, Flexeril), sleep aids (e.g., Ambien, Lunesta), stimulants (e.g., Adderall, Ritalin), and certain antidepressants or antipsychotics. Over-the-counter medications that may cause impairment can include antihistamines (e.g., Benadryl), cough suppressants, sleep aids, and others. 

How Does It Change a Legal Claim if the Driver Was Under the Influence? 

To recover compensation for any car accident claim, the plaintiff must show that the other driver was negligent and that their negligence caused the accident. When there is evidence that the driver was under the influence at the time of the crash, it can be easier to prove they were at fault because DUI is considered inherently dangerous behavior.  

Though it is not enough to prove the driver broke the law—you must still show that their behavior actually caused the accident—a DUI can make fault clearer and result in much more compensation than in a typical negligence claim. When fault is clearly established, the insurance company may settle the claim faster to avoid a large punitive damages payout at trial. 

However, drivers often lie and try to cover up their actions to avoid the harsh criminal penalties mandated by Georgia’s DUI statutes, so your lawyer will need to collect the right evidence to prove intoxication and ensure you receive all the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Frequently Asked Questions About Georgia DUI Accident Cases 

Can DUI accidents in Georgia pay out above the insurance policy limit?

Yes. In most negligence claims, victims are entitled to recover compensatory damages that include all economic and noneconomic losses, but the insurance company must only pay compensation up to the policy limit. However, if the at-fault driver was driving under the influence, the victim may be entitled to much more compensation in the form of punitive damages.  
Juries award punitive damages in cases where the at-fault driver exhibited “willful misconduct, fraud, wantonness, malice, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of a conscious indifference to consequences.” O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1(b). Under Georgia law, DUI meets this standard. If you can prove that the accident was caused by drunk driving, there is no cap on the amount of punitive damages you can receive—it is up to the jury to decide. 

Can an open container in a vehicle be used as evidence?

Yes. It is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in the vehicle while driving. If you are charged with having an open container, it can be used to enhance punishment in a DUI criminal case and as evidence to secure a conviction. It can also be used as evidence in a civil claim involving a DUI accident. 

Is a driver automatically declared at fault if they are drunk?

No. Though a DUI charge is strong evidence in a car accident claim, the driver can only be held responsible if they actually caused the crash. Sometimes a drunk or impaired driver is hit by another vehicle through no fault of their own. In that situation, the drunk driver may be criminally charged but not held liable in a civil claim. 

What is the difference between reckless driving and drunk driving?

Reckless driving occurs when a person causes an accident by driving “any vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property.” O.C.G.A.§ 40-6-350. Some examples of reckless driving include excessive speeding, street racing, weaving in and out of lanes rapidly, tailgating, and DUI. Whether the driver meets the criteria for reckless driving depends on the circumstances, such as how fast they were going and whether people were present. 
With DUI, on the other hand, a driver is charged based on whether they were impaired by either drugs or alcohol. Even though DUI is a separate criminal charge in Georgia, a driver can be charged with both DUI and reckless driving after an accident. You can be awarded punitive damages for both as well, but the amount you can receive for a claim that only involves reckless driving is capped at $250,000. If DUI is also a cause, there is no limit. 

Can insurance companies exclude punitive damages from auto policies?

Yes. Some insurance policies contain an exclusion for punitive damages, which is allowed under Georgia law. If the at-fault driver’s policy has such an exclusion, you can file a claim for compensatory damages but will need to file a lawsuit against the driver to recover punitive damages. If you win the lawsuit, the driver must pay punitive damages from their personal assets. 

How Our Ellenwood DUI Accident Lawyers Prove the Driver Was Intoxicated 

If you were injured in a DUI accident in Ellenwood, your lawyer will need to gather evidence that proves the driver was intoxicated. There are numerous ways to prove DUI, including: 

If the driver was arrested at the accident scene, they will have likely been given a breathalyzer or other test to determine their BAC. Evidence showing that the driver consumed alcohol or other substances that cause impairment can be used in a civil claim.

Police officers often use body cameras when making arrests, and this footage might show that the driver displayed symptoms of impairment, such as slurring, stumbling, or unsteady gait.

If there were any witnesses at or near the accident scene, they may have observed the driver acting impaired, either by the way they were driving or their behavior after the crash. Your lawyer should interview all witnesses and record their statements to build a strong case.

When police are called to the scene of an accident, the police report will often include a description of the driver’s behavior, including whether they were exhibiting signs of intoxication. If the driver was arrested, that will also be noted in the report. Your lawyer will need to obtain the police report as part of the investigation

A reconstruction expert can analyze the accident to determine whether the driver’s actions were consistent with intoxication. Often, the expert will look at the driver’s behavior and mistakes and identify whether a typical, nonimpaired driver would have acted the same way.

If the intoxicated driver was injured in the accident, their medical records may show they had alcohol or drugs in their system. This evidence can be used to prove DUI, even if the driver refused to take a breathalyzer at the scene.

Experience and Focus: The Personal Injury Cases Handled by Our Ellenwood Attorneys

An experienced attorney knows how to find other evidence to prove DUI, which may include photos, video footage, cell phone records, social media posts, and more. Because The Millar Law Firm has many years of experience handling DUI accident cases in Ellenwood, we know where to look for evidence, how to work effectively with local law enforcement, and which reconstruction experts are most knowledgeable in the area. 

If you have been hurt by a drunk driver, you should speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Our lawyers know how to recover maximum compensation for your injuries and can answer any questions you may have about your claim. Call The Millar Law Firm today at (770) 400-0000 or contact us online to set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys.