- When pursuing a personal injury claim against a suspected drunk driver, you must prove negligence and fault on the other driver’s behalf to win your case.
- In addition to the at-fault driver, in some cases, a claim may also be made against the driver’s insurance company, the parents if the driver is underage, or a property or business owner if they share any fault.
- If a driver is found to be under the influence, you may be able to collect punitive damages in addition to economic and non-economic damages.
- A personal injury lawyer can help you collect important evidence to prove the other driver’s fault and ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.
There are few things more life-changing than being involved in an auto crash. In many cases, 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.
A person can easily avoid driving under the influence with present-day transportation options, such as Uber and Lyft or the old-school method of simply having a designated driver. 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 file claims for their personal injuries that occurred due to a drunk driver.
If you’ve suffered an injury in an auto accident with a drunk driver, then you may be able to file a lawsuit to get compensation for your injuries.
DUI Accidents Are Crimes That Can Be Compensated for in Civil Claims
DUIs that don’t result in accidents typically start and end as criminal cases.
However, when a DUI case involves an accident and resulting injuries, then a civil case usually becomes necessary. A criminal DUI charge is not designed to pay for victims’ expenses that result from an accident, it is meant to criminally punish the drunk driver.
If you were the victim of 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 as the victim of a case, they do not represent you or advocate for your position. Prosecutors work for the local or state government, while personal injury lawyers work for you.
Even if a suspected drunk driver is found not guilty in their criminal case, they could still lose a civil case where the burden of proof is lower. Understanding these burdens and the Georgia laws on driving under the influence are vital to winning your civil claim.
Georgia’s Laws on Driving Under the Influence
Georgia has strict DUI criminal laws. The laws and penalties associated with DUI cases only get harsher as years go on, and more anti-DUI legislation is passed.
In order to file suit against a driver for being under the influence, they must actually have been under the influence according to state 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
- Be “under the influence” of alcohol or any controlled substance
If it can be proven that intoxication affected the other person’s driving, then they may be considered to be “under the influence” in the eyes of Georgia criminal law. 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.
Negligence and Fault Still Must Be Proven
When pursuing a personal injury claim against a suspected drunk driver, it is important to understand that as the plaintiff, you still have to prove negligence and fault on the other driver’s behalf to win your case. While a criminal DUI conviction against a suspected drunk driver can be very helpful to your personal injury case, it does not automatically make your case for you.
Georgia is a comparative fault state, which means that a court will use all the available evidence relating to an accident, and then determine a percentage for how at fault each person was for that accident. If the resulting percentage is split, then it reduces the potential compensation. For instance, if a court determines that you were 25% at fault for an accident even though you suffered injuries, your compensation would be reduced by 25%.
If you aren’t careful, you could lose a significant amount of money if the court finds you at least partially responsible for the accident. It is important to gather and examine all of the evidence available to best understand how fault might be apportioned in a DUI accident case. Only then can you truly assess how strong your negligence claim is, and what it could potentially be worth.
Evidence Our Attorneys Will Gather to Prove a DUI Accident
In order to prove a DUI injury claim, personal injury 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 make sure to search for any evidence that could be helpful to your DUI injury claim. Important evidence that is pursued during a DUI accident investigation includes:
- Witness testimony: Accounts from anyone who was at the scene or who can attest to the driver being intoxicated at the time of the accident.
- Accident damage: This includes the damage to all vehicles involved, as well as any other property.
- Police reports: Any photos, videos, or investigations done by local police in the aftermath of the accident.
- Field sobriety tests: These are the tests police officers complete on the side of the road 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.
- Any 911 calls: These calls can help an investigation as they often describe the most immediate impact of a DUI accident and can lead to finding other witnesses.
These are just some of the major pieces of evidence that our attorneys will seek to locate in order to prove your DUI injury claim.
Each case is unique and will require a specifically tailored approach. Having a personal injury attorney on your side who has the experience necessary to prove your DUI accident case can help ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.
Who Can Potentially Get Sued in a DUI Accident in Georgia?
In the state of Georgia, it is possible to sue multiple parties in a DUI accident claim.
Along with the suspected drunk driver, a lawsuit can typically be filed against:
- The driver’s insurance company
- The driver’s parent, if a minor is involved
In certain circumstances, DUI injury claims can also be filed against a business owner or homeowner. However, it must be proven that the business or property owner was, in some way, responsible for the accident. For example, if a bar overserved an excessively drunk patron who later drives and causes an accident or injury.
It is important to file suit against the correct parties, or you may be leaving money on the table.
How Proving DUI Can Increase Your Compensation
If you can prove to a court that the at-fault driver was under the influence, then you open the possibility of receiving punitive damages.
Punitive damages are awarded in addition to all other regular economic and non-economic damages that a victim would receive in a typical car accident case. While punitive damages are actually meant to punish the offender, they can increase your compensation in an accident case.
Punitive damages can be sought in cases where the defendant acted in especially wanton or reckless ways. Because driving under the influence is typically considered reckless behavior, proving this of the at-fault driver is the key to receiving the maximum compensation.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you prove your case and ensure you receive all possible awards for compensation.
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 driver’s BAC be used as evidence if he or she was under the legal limit?
As long as the BAC evidence was properly obtained, it can still be admitted against the suspected drunk driver.
Can an injured person still lose even if the driver was clearly drunk?
Yes, under the laws of comparative fault, it is possible to lose your case depending on how much you were at fault in the accident.
Can information from a DUI criminal trial be used in a DUI injury trial?
Yes and no, only legally admissible evidence can be used in a DUI injury case.
It is best to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney to determine the answers to these and any other questions you may have about your DUI injury case.
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.