Georgia sees more than 10,000 DUI cases each year, and thousands of people are seriously hurt when a drunk driver slams into them. At Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys, we know how to hold these intoxicated motorists accountable when they run you off the road or crash into your car.
Under Georgia law, drunk driving is a crime, but it is also a civil wrong which gives rise to liability when a drunk driver hits you. We can seek favorable compensation for your injuries in either a settlement or a lawsuit, so contact us today. One of our Atlanta car accident attorneys can explain your rights in a confidential consultation.
Why Drunk Driving is So Dangerous
Motorists in Georgia must drive with reasonable care. When they don’t, they are responsible for any injuries they cause.
A drunk or high motorist is obviously not acting reasonably. In fact, it is very dangerous to drive when impaired, because a driver will suffer from:
- Poor decision-making ability
- Slowed reflexes
- Impaired movement and coordination
- Blurred vision
Drunk motorists can easily run over pedestrians or other motorists because they do not have control of their physical and mental faculties. Even drugs can impair a driver. Marijuana, cocaine, even prescription drugs—they can all have a negative influence on a person’s ability to drive safely.
Evidence of Drunk Driving
After a drunk driver hits you, you have the burden of proving they are at fault. We rely on the following evidence to establish drunk driving.
Chemical Test Results
If the police came to the scene, an officer should have asked the driver to take a breathalyzer test. The officer might suggest a urine or blood test in other situations, such as when the officer suspects the driver is on drugs. These test results serve as the foundation of many criminal prosecutions.
We can also use these results in a civil lawsuit for damages. Our Atlanta car accident lawyers know how to request test results from the police. We can introduce them in court or use them as part of our negotiations.
Field Sobriety Tests
When an officer suspects intoxication, they might ask the driver to participate in certain field sobriety tests, such as the one-leg stand. A person must balance on one foot, which is hard for an intoxicated person. Another test is walking in a straight line. We can ask the officer to testify about the driver’s performance or introduce body cam footage.
Witnesses can also help establish that a driver was drunk. For example, the driver could have had a beer in his hand when he exited his vehicle, or he could have been slurring his words when speaking. Other signs are lack of coordination, beer breath, or red eyes.
You can document your observations by telling the police officer who comes out to the accident scene. You might also write a short paragraph as soon as you can.
Compensation for a Drunk Driving Accident
Our clients usually have high medical bills following a crash. Many drunk drivers speed or run a red light, so our clients suffer the full brunt of any collision. We have sought money for:
- Medical bills to treat your injuries
- Lost income or wages if you couldn’t work
- Loss of earning capacity, when permanent injuries prevent you from returning to your old job
- Future medical expenses for long-lasting injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish or emotional distress
- Property damage
We might also request punitive damages. These are only available in cases where the defendant acted with malice or wantonness or a similarly bad mental state. Think of someone showing no concern at all for other people’s safety—the law says that person should pay punitive damages in addition to the compensatory damages listed above.
Drunk driving usually qualifies as wanton, dangerous behavior. We can seek a sum that will serve as a punishment and deterrent.
Suing a Social Host or Business
In addition to suing the driver, we might also bring a claim against anyone who served the drunk driver alcohol. This could be a business, like a bar or restaurant, or it could be a private social host.
Georgia Code § 51-1-40 says that, as a general matter, someone who sells or furnishes alcohol beverages does not become legally liable if that person gets into an accident later. But the law also provides two exceptions:
- A person knowingly or unlawfully furnishes someone who is underage with alcohol
- A person knowingly furnishes someone who is noticeably intoxicated with alcohol
If the defendant knows that the person that they furnish is about to drive a car, then any accident victim can sue them for compensation.
These types of claims are very helpful, and our lawyers always consider whether we can sue a business or a social host. Businesses often have generous insurance policies which can cover the cost of an accident. We can investigate to find out where the drunk motorist was drinking before the crash.
What to Do after a Drunk Driving Collision
Please take the following steps to protect your safety and the health of your loved ones. You can also improve your chances of bringing a successful claim.
1. Get to safety and call an ambulance for anyone who is badly hurt.
2. Report the accident to the police and tell them you suspect the driver who hit you is intoxicated.
3. Take pictures of anything that seems of interest, such as each side of all vehicles involved. You want to recreate what happened, and pictures help with that.
4. Ask any nearby witnesses what they saw. Also ask for a way to contact them in the future.
5. Try to swap insurance and personal information with the driver. This can be hard, depending on his or her level of intoxication. You might need to wait for the police to arrive before you can get this information.
6. Go to the hospital when you finish with the police officer and tell the doctor you were in a car accident. Point out where you feel pain.
Call Our Atlanta Car Accident Attorneys for Help
Drunk driving is an outrage, and accident victims should seek justice. In addition to receiving justified compensation, you can protect other people by forcing drunk drivers to pay for the damage they cause.
Call Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys at (404) 529-3476 to schedule a consultation.