When a Drunk Driver Causes a Car Accident
Anyone who is involved in a car accident has the potential to be dealing with serious injuries, some of which may be life threatening.
One of the most devastating aspects of drunk driving accidents that it is often the passengers of the other vehicle who are seriously injured or killed and not the person who was under the influence of alcohol.
For the family members who are coping with the loss of a loved one or for a victim who has sustained catastrophic injuries and is trying to put the pieces of their life back together, a proper evaluation of the accident scene is the crucial first step to handling when a drunk driver causes an accident. These tips can help someone better understand why drunk drivers cause accidents and how to handle the situation in which this has already happened.
Far too many families have had to grapple with the aftermath of a drunk driving accident, trying to put the pieces of their lives together again after a loved one suffers a critical or fatal injury. Research from the CDC, for example, shows that more than 10,000 people died in accidents tied to impaired driving in 2015. Young children are often the ones hurt or killed in these instances, too, since alcohol-related accidents make up around 16% of fatal accidents involving a child.
Why Drunk Drivers Are More Likely to Cause Accidents?
Anyone with a high a blood alcohol content has a decreased ability to maintain control of their car and has decreased reaction times and overall judgement behind the wheel.
The person may assume that they are fine to drive but their faculties have been significantly impaired when affected by alcohol. The word impaired comes up often in descriptions of drunk drivers because when compared with their typical ability to operate a car safely, a person under the influence of drugs or alcohol does not have the same capabilities and protections.
Drunk drivers are also more likely to engage in other risky behaviors such as speeding or driving on the wrong side of the road. It is not always easy to spot drunk driver, meaning that passengers in other vehicles or another driver may attempt to respond in mere seconds and be unable to avoid a catastrophic accident.
Civil and Criminal Penalties Associated with Drunk Driving
Drunk driving is especially important to understand when an accident occurs because those who are hurt in an accident may be curious about who will pay their medical bills. Furthermore, authorities dispatched to the scene who believe that alcohol may have been a factor in the accident itself may be interested in gathering evidence that could be used to pursue a criminal case. These situations may call for a civil as well as a criminal claim. These are handled separately in the court system.
The criminal allegations involve the assessment of penalties associated with breaking the law directly. Although illustration of property damage and serious bodily injury can be used to show the severity of the accident and to support the fact that the person who caused it was under the influence of alcohol, the criminal case does not mean that the person who was hurt or who lost a loved one is entitled to damages.
The criminal trial for drunk driving is handled completely separately from any civil trial. A civil trial however, may be brought by someone who has been seriously injured because of the drunk driver's behavior or family members who have lost a loved one allegedly because of that drunk driver's behavior. Although this may be carried out at the same time as a criminal trial and involve many of the same facts, witnesses and evidence, it is completely distinct from the criminal trial that is seeking to pursue the penalties against the responsible driver.
A person who is injured in a drunk driving accident needs to do more than simply reporting their suspicion that the driver was under the influence of drugs to the police officers at the scene of the incident. They should also get medical attention to identify a proper diagnosis and to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer immediately regarding whether or not they are currently eligible to pursue a case.
Common Injuries in Drunk Driving Accidents
Because a driver can easily lose control of a vehicle when under the influence of alcohol, a broad range of injuries many of which may be severe, typically associated with drunk driving accidents.
Many of the injuries from a drunk driving accident can have ripple effects throughout the victimís lifetime, including costly medical bills and serious daily pain.
Drunk drivers can amplify the impacts of the accident by engaging in reckless behavior as well, and may not even realize how fast they were going for the type of behavior that they were engaged in at the time of the accident. Some of the most common severe injuries associated with drunk driving accidents include:
Traumatic brain injuries
Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
Internal organ damage or bleeding
A person who has sustained serious injuries in a drunk driving accident may not even realize it until he or she has gone to the hospital to get further medical attention after the accident has occurred. Many injuries such as concussions can be easily masked by the adrenaline and shock present at the scene of the accident in the injured person's body. This is what makes appropriate evaluation by medical professionals extremely important for anyone who may have suffered a serious injury because of a drunk driver.
It is far better to be safe than sorry for anyone who is hurt in such an accident because the timely diagnosis of these conditions can dramatically increase the chances for a full recovery. Not everyone who is hurt in a drunk driving accident, however, will be able to recover in full and move on with their life after such a serious injury.
AUTHOR: Salter Ferguson
Copyright Salter Ferguson, LLC
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.