Key Legal Issues in a Car Accident Involving Alcohol

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 10,265 people in the United States died in 2015 as a result of alcohol-impaired driving car accidents – this accounts for nearly one-third of all traffic-related fatalities in the country.

The same year, nearly 1.1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is 1% of the 111 million self-reported alcohol-impaired driving episodes among adults each year in the US.

Alcohol and Personal Injury Liability for Car Accident Damages

A drunk driver is almost always liable for any injuries or damage they cause while they operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Even in some no-fault states, exceptions are made allowing lawsuits over a motor vehicle crash caused by a drunk driver.

Car Accident

If you drive while you are drunk and cause an accident, you will definitely be held liable for your actions.

Proving that a driver was drunk at the time of the accident is relatively easy in most cases. Breathalyzers, field sobriety tests, and hospital-administered blood tests are all utilized in order to determine the amount of alcohol in the system of a driver at the time of an accident.

Personal injury claims can have a devastating impact on a driver since it effectively destroys their ability to obtain insurance or drive their car, plus there is often insurmountable financial fallout. It is very rare for victims of drunk drivers to decline filing a personal injury lawsuit and, as mentioned already, it can be extremely easy to prove liability in a drunk driving case.

Dram Shop Laws and how they Impact Car Accidents Liability

In many states, there are laws that are collectively known as “dram shop laws”. These laws impute civil liability on restaurants and bars that serve patrons excessively and allow them to drive their vehicle. Dram shop laws vary from one state to another and over time, have changed in a number of ways.

Cases that involve dram shop laws can be highly contentious as the bar or restaurant owner can have potentially enormous ramifications. However, the fact remains that anyone who serves alcohol for profit has a duty to protect patrons from driving their vehicles while drunk.

Dram shop laws are not present in every state, and in some states, there are criminal statutes that are related to establishments that knowingly allow patrons who are drunk to operate their vehicles.

In cases involving minors who drink and drive, adults who allow minors to drink in their home or provide alcohol to minors can be held as liable as the minors themselves. In some states, there are even some laws that have been passed to impute homeowners with liability if a minor was drinking alcohol in their home, regardless of whether or not the homeowner was aware that the minor was drinking.

Insurance Ramifications of Drunk Driving or Car Accidents

A conviction for drunk driving can have a serious impact on a person’s ability to obtain insurance for their vehicle. In many cases, insurance companies will not risk a potential high-dollar claim or a personal injury lawsuit if a driver has been convicted of operating their vehicle while they were under the influence of alcohol.

Seeking Legal Services After Car Accidents

If you have been in an accident caused by a drunk driver, one of the first things you should do is contact a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling cases involving drunk driving. It may seem like you have a straightforward, viable case, but there are many processes in a car accident suit that require the knowledge and expertise of a prudent and committed lawyer.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, you should immediately seek the help of the dependable personal injury attorneys at Scott J. Sternberg and Associates, P.A. Contact us at 561-687-5660 today to schedule a free consultation and find out if you have a viable case.

Additional Reading:

Establishing Liability after a Car Accident in a Defective Roadway Design Case

5 Terms Used in a Car Accident Settlement

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