A Guide to DUI Injury Evidence and Damages in Georgia Car Accidents

Key Points:

  • To win a personal injury claim against a suspected drunk driver, you or your Georgia DUI accident attorney must prove both the negligence of the other driver and your own damages.
  • If a driver is found to be under the influence, you may be able to collect punitive damages in addition to pain and suffering and economic damages.
  • Although drunk or drugged driving is considered a crime and an intentional act, in many cases the accident will be covered by the intoxicated motorist’s automobile insurance policy.
  • In some cases, a third-party claim may exist against a person or business for serving or selling alcohol to an already noticeably intoxicated person, or negligently entrusting him or her with a vehicle.

Recovering Damages In Georgia DUI Car Accident Injury Cases

Most car accidents are just that—an accident that was unavoidable. However, a DUI accident is an unnecessary occurrence that should not happen on our Georgia roads today, but too often does.

When an individual drives drunk and gets into an accident, the victims of that accident must not only face the prospect of having to physically recover, but also financially recover from the medical bills, missed income, and other unexpected expenses that come with injuries from serious accidents.

While DUI cases are usually viewed as criminal, they become civil cases when victims have personal injury or wrongful death claims against a drunk driver. Most likely, you are entitled to present and recover damages in the form of a settlement or judgment against the insurance company for the drunk driver, including payment for your pain and suffering, lost pay, medical expenses and punitive damages.

Georgia DUI Accident Victims Are Entitled To Fair Civil Compensation

While DUI is normally considered a crime, when driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs results in an accident and personal injuries, a civil claim or case usually exists. If you are the victim in a DUI accident, it is important to know that during the criminal case, the prosecutor is not your lawyer. While the prosecutor may try to help you on behalf of the State, the prosecutor does not represent you in your claim for civil damages and compensation.

To recover compensation, in the form of a settlement or verdict, against the drunk-driver or their insurance company, you may represent yourself or hire a civil, personal injury lawyer.

Your civil damages claim may be assisted by proving that the at-fault drunk driver was charged with or convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or prescription or illegal drugs.

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Georgia’s Driving Under the Influence Law

Graphic: vehicle collision with cars blocking the roadway, a driver convicted of violating Georgia law by driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher is generally considered negligent as a matter of law

In the state of Georgia, it is unlawful to drive or be in physical control of a vehicle if you:

  • Have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher
  • Have a BAC of .04% or higher if driving a commercial vehicle
  • Have a BAC of .02% or higher if under 21 years old
  • Are “under the influence” of alcohol or any controlled substance to the extent that you are a less-safe driver.

Marijuana in Georgia is still illegal, and driving with any marijuana or other illegal drugs in your system can also result in DUI criminal charges.

Even When an At-Fault Driver is Drunk, Negligence and Damages Still Must Be Proven

In the State of Georgia, when pursuing a personal injury claim against a suspected drunk driver, you must prove the other driver drove negligently to win your liability case, and then you must prove that your injuries were caused by the accident. So, while a criminal DUI conviction against a suspected drunk driver can be very helpful to your personal injury case, the conviction alone does not automatically the case for you.

First, you must prove that the intoxicated driver was at-fault for causing the accident. If, for example, you ran a stop sign and crashed into a drunk driver, the drunk might be convicted of DUI but he or she may not be at fault for causing the collision. Secondly, you must prove that the drunk or drugged driver caused your injuries. It is important to seek prompt medical care and to have medical evidence that distinguishes between new and pre-existing injuries.

Evidence Personal Injury Attorneys Will Gather to Prove a DUI Accident

To prove a DUI injury claim, car accident attorneys will gather all the evidence that is readily available and seek any evidence that might be missing.

The attorneys at The Millar Law Firm will conduct a DUI accident investigation that includes:

  • Witness testimony: We will interview witnesses from the accident scene or who can attest to the driver being intoxicated at the time of the accident.
  • Accident damage: We will evaluate the damage to all vehicles involved, as well as any other property.
  • Police reports and law enforcement recordings:  Any photos, videos, and primary and supplemental reports by local or state police will be gathered.
  • Results of Field sobriety tests: These are the tests police officers complete on the side of the road or at the police station to help determine if an individual is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The administration and results of these tests are typically included in the police report or the prosecutor’s file.
  • 911 calls: Calls by witnesses to 911 reporting or describing the accident can help an investigation as they often describe the DUI driver’s reckless behavior before or at the time of the accident.

Of course, every injury case is unique and will require its own investigation. A personal injury attorney who has the experience necessary to prove your DUI accident case can help ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.

Who Can Potentially Be Required to Pay Damages in a DUI Accident in Georgia?

Graphic: initial insurance offers are typically for far less than the claim is actually worth

Along with suing the suspected drunk driver, a personal injury lawyer will typically investigate to see whether you may have a claim against:

  • A business that may have over-served or sold alcohol to a noticeably intoxicated customer, knowing that he or she may soon be driving;
  • Another person who entrusted his or her vehicle to an intoxicated driver.

Thus, in certain circumstances, DUI injury claims can also be made against a business owner , homeowner, parent or friend of the drunk driver. However, such cases can be challenging. Generally, it must be proven that a business or property owner was, in some way, responsible for the accident or that a third-person knowingly allowed a drunk to drive. For example, a bar may be liable under Georgia law if it overserved an excessively drunk patron knowing he or she may soon be driving.

Detailed investigation is necessary in any DUI accident case, otherwise you risk receiving less than full compensation.

Proof of an At-Fault Driver’s Intoxication Can Increase Your Compensation

In Georgia if you or the attorney handling your DUI injury claim can prove that the at-fault driver was under the influence, you may be entitled to punitive damages.

Punitive damages are awarded in addition to pain and suffering and medical damages and are a special type of award intended to punish the offender and deter him or her from driving drunk again in the future.

Punitive damages can be sought in cases where the defendant acted in especially wanton or reckless ways, which includes driving under the influence. This is because driving under the influence is typically considered reckless behavior.

Suspect a driver may be drunk if they were: driving erratically or weaving in a lane, or were very slow to react to a road sign or change in the speed of traffic before the crash

Frequently Asked Questions in DUI Injury Accident Cases

If you are thinking about pursuing a DUI injury claim, then you may have additional questions. Here are some FAQs about DUI accident cases:

Will the at-fault drunk driver’s insurance company pay my claim?

Generally, yes. Drunk driving is rarely excluded from most Georgia automobile liability insurance policies.

Can an injured person still lose even if the driver was clearly drunk?

Yes, under the laws of negligence and comparative fault, it is possible to lose your case if you were at-fault or depending on how much you were at fault in the accident.

Can information from a DUI criminal case be used in a DUI injury trial?

Yes and no. Certain types of criminal evidence can be used to help your DUI injury case, such as witness testimony under oath or an admission of guilt by the at-fault drunk driver.

Experienced Atlanta DUI and Drugged Driving Accident Injury Lawyers

“We sue drunk drivers.” It may sound like typical lawyer advertising, but our firm has a long and very successful history of recovering large damages from drunk drivers or businesses who served or sold them alcohol. We take drunk driving seriously, and work hard to ensure you receive full justice.

If you would like any questions answered about a potential DUI accident injury claim or would like to hire our law firm to represent you, call The Millar Law Firm today at (770) 400-0000 or contact us online. Our consultations are free and we will answer any of your questions, even if you have not yet decided whether to hire an injury attorney.

- D. Lo

I would highly recommend this firm and staff to everyone, they were great with my case.

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