Decatur Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
Someone decided to drive while drunk, and you are now paying the ultimate price! When an intoxicated driver upends your life by making bad decisions, the law allows you to take full control and hold them accountable. If you have either suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one in a drunk driver accident in Decatur, Georgia, you need to act very fast and contact the seasoned, highly experienced Decatur drunk driving accident attorneys at Scholle Law.
Drunk drivers that hurt other road users are usually dealt with by the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, driving license suspensions, jail time, as well as community service, don’t help the victims. And this is why you need the services of qualified drunk driving attorneys. The Decatur drunk driving lawyers at Scholle Law can help you acquire the necessary monetary compensation you need to cope with your drunk driving accident injuries and losses.
At Scholle Law, we know and understand the magnitude of both the physical and emotional suffering associated with being a drunk driving victim. Our DUI accident attorneys are extremely experienced in navigating the complex legal process of obtaining financial compensation for accident injury victims.
Georgia Drunk Driving Statistics
In 2011, there were a total of 8,878 alcohol-impaired deaths in America. DUI accident deaths increased by 5.3% between 2017 and 2018, with a total of 375 alcohol-impaired driving deaths being witnessed. In 2019, there were 353 car crash fatalities (out of 1,491) that involved a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 g/dl or higher, accounting for 24% of Georgia’s total traffic deaths. In 2021, statistics revealed that out of the total 1,504 traffic accidents were due to alcohol impairment.
How Many Injuries Are Caused By Drunk Driving In Georgia Annually?
Even though drinking and driving rates have somehow decreased over the past decade or so, many people still get injured or killed because of reckless drivers who decide to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. Based on the data from the CDC and the U.S. Department of Transportation, it is estimated that every year, at least 300,000 people are injured in drunk driving accidents in Georgia.
How Long Do I Have To File A Drinking And Driving Lawsuit?
In the state of Georgia, the deadline for filing a drinking and driving lawsuit is 24 months. This deadline is very important because should you fail to file your personal injury lawsuit
within two years, you run the risk of losing the right to seek damages from the liable party. While this deadline applies to most accident claimants, there are a few exceptions. This implies that
some claimants can have either shorter or longer filing deadlines. Possible reasons for this include:
- You did not discover your injuries until after the traumatic event passed.
- A mental disability prevented you from filing your personal lawsuit within the set deadline.
- You were involved in the accident as a minor and decided to file a lawsuit after turning 18.
- The defendant moved out of Georgia, impeding the process.
What Is A Dram Shop Lawsuit?
As a victim of drunk driving, you will want to hire a qualified personal injury lawyer to help you investigate the events leading up to the accident. In a dram shop lawsuit, a Decatur drunk driving accident lawyer will file a case on your behalf against the restaurant or bar establishment because they negligently over-served a visibly drunk customer while knowing that the customer would soon be driving.
The criteria for holding an establishment liable include:
- The establishment knowingly served or sold alcohol to a minor below the age of 18.
- The establishment sold or served alcohol to a visibly drunk individual.
- The establishment was aware that the drunk person or minor would be driving a motor vehicle.
An important point to note is that only the DUI victims, and not the drunk driver, can lodge a dram shop liability claim. Our highly skilled personal injury lawyers will assess your case and decide whether you have a potential dram shop liability claim if you got injured due to the negligence of a drunk driver.
What If No Tickets Were Issued?
Tickets as well as police reports can be crucial evidence for supporting personal injury claims by proving the other driver was at fault for your drunk driving accident. Traffic tickets are issued at the accident scene, and generally reflect the investigating police officer’s opinion regarding who caused the crash. But what if a ticket was not issued at the scene of an accident? Does it imply you can’t proceed with your case? The short answer is no! Simply put, a lack of a ticket doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of fault on the part of the drunk driver.
Generally, a ticket was not issued either because no law was violated, or the police officer didn’t witness the car accident, and therefore, was not in a position to write the citation. A lack of a ticket just indicates that, during the car crash, it was not possible to identify the guilty party, and further investigation may be needed to establish liability.
What Is The Difference Between a Civil and Criminal DUI Case?
In most states, including Georgia, an impaired driver who is at fault for a serious car crash can face both criminal and civil lawsuits. Criminal charges are usually brought by the state for the criminal offense of DUI. On the other hand, in a civil lawsuit, the victim seeks damages against the person responsible for the accident as a result of their impaired driving.
In a criminal case, an individual can be charged, convicted, and sentenced to a number of potential punishments such as probation, jail term, prison, fines, revocation of driving privileges, and counseling, among other court-ordered penalties. In contrast, in a civil lawsuit, the victim generally pursues financial recovery for the damages involved.
As a victim of DUI accident, a civil lawsuit allows you to seek compensation for quantifiable economic losses such as property damage, medical bills, lost wages as well as the loss of earning capacity if your injuries are expected to have a lasting impact on your earning potential.
How A Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Investigates Your Case.
To prove liability in a drunk driving accident claim, a qualified drunk driving accident lawyer will deal with the insurance company, help you with your medical bills and collect all the evidence that is readily available while seeking any type of evidence that might be missing. In this regard, our personal injury attorneys will carry out a DUI accident investigation that includes:
- Gathering witness testimony: We will conduct an interview with witnesses from the crash scene or anyone who can prove the driver was drunk at the time of the accident.
- Assess the extent of accident damage: We will evaluate the damage to all cars involved, as well as any other property.
- Collect data from police reports and law enforcement recordings: We will gather any videos, images, and primary and secondary supplemental reports filed by either local or state police officers. What’s more, we will collect the results of the field sobriety test. This will help us establish whether the defendant was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident.
- Review 911 calls: Calls made by witnesses reporting to 911 can also help us navigate the case because they usually describe the suspected driver’s recklessness either before or during the crash.
What Are The Potential Damages In DUI Accidents?
If you are involved in a DUI accident in Georgia, the specific damages available to you will largely depend on the circumstances as well as the facts of your case. However, some of the most common types of damages available include:
- Medical expenses: If you have suffered significant injuries in a DUI accident, you can be compensated for your medical expenses, both past and future medical bills. This constitutes expenses for surgery, hospitalization, and rehabilitation, among others.
- Lost wages: If your DUI accident injuries have rendered you unable to work, you can recover compensation for your lost wages. This may include lost earnings from the time of the crash until you are able to resume working, as well as lost earning potential should your injuries result in a lasting permanent disability.
- Property damage: If your car or any other type of property got damaged during the accident, you can also receive payment for repairs or replacement costs. Funeral expenses may also be covered if the accident resulted in a wrongful death.
- Emotional damages: As a DUI accident victim in the state of Georgia, you are also entitled to receive compensation for emotional damages such as mental anguish, pain, and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life as well as disability.
In Georgia, the law demands that motorists carry a minimum of $25,000 in insurance coverage for bodily harm and property damage. On top of this, you may also receive punitive damages. While punitive damages are normally capped at $250,000 in Georgia, the Georgia punitive damages statute allows for unlimited punitive damages if a tortious act is done under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Accordingly, the $250,000 cap on punitive damages does not apply for a DUI case.
As with all personal injury claims, a lot depends on how much and what kind of insurance coverage you, the negligent driver and any 3rd parties have. We do not recommend going up against the insurance company alone, this is another reason to consider speaking with an experienced legal team.
What Are The Penalties For A DUI In Georgia?
A DUI offense in Georgia comes with serious repercussions, ranging from heavy fines, jail time, license suspension, and counseling, among others. It’s also worth noting that a DUI can be treated as either a felony offense or a misdemeanor. If deemed a felony, it could make it tougher to secure employment or obtain a house or credit. And this is why it’s imperative that you seek the services of an experienced Decatur DUI attorney to help handle your case and get the best possible outcome.
In general, you’ll face two types of DUI consequences in Georgia, including administrative license suspension and penalties arising from a DUI conviction.
The DUI case is totally separate from the administrative license suspension hearing. For first-time DUI offenders, the maximum possible penalties are a fine of $300-$1,000, and a jail term of 10 days to 12 months. Other potential penalties include 40hrs of community service, a substance abuse evaluation, and a one-year probation.
If this is their second DUI offense in ten years, they will receive even more severe penalties. The consequences are 90 days to 12 months in jail and a fine of $600-$1,000, 240 hrs of community service, DUI school, 12 months of probation, and a substance evaluation.
A third DUI within ten years now becomes a misdemeanor of high and aggravated nature. The possible penalties are 120 days to 12 months in jail, a $500-$1,000 fine, DUI school, 240 hrs of community service, 12 months probation, and a substance abuse evaluation.
Liability For Drunk Driving Accident Injuries: Are Drunk Drivers Always at Fault?
More often than not, proving fault is the major hurdle in DUI accidents. An intoxicated driver is not always responsible for a car accident. What’s more, proving an individual was intoxicated doesn’t necessarily imply you win the lawsuit. The major cause of the collision may or may not have been their drunkenness.
To show that the DUI driver was at fault, the law requires you to prove that the driver was negligent, his actions either contributed to the accident and that you suffered property damage or physical injuries as a result of the accident.
Common Types Of Injuries From A DUI Accident In Decatur, Georgia
There are lots of potential injuries you can experience as a result of a DUI accident. These injuries may include:
- Traumatic brain injury: This is arguably the most common type of injury victims always suffer. It can have a dramatic impact on your memory, vision, emotions, and hearing as well as emotions. What’s more, it can limit your ability to perform your day-to-day activities.
- Soft tissue injuries: Damaged tendons, ligaments, and muscles in your back, shoulder, or even neck can impact your ability to move. What’s more, it could cause long-term chronic pain.
- Limb injuries: Crushed limbs caused by a drunk driving accident can require surgery as well as long-term physical therapy. In more severe scenarios, your leg or arm could be amputated.
- Organ damage: Internal injuries involving your kidneys, lungs, and spleen can be life-threatening.
- Spinal injuries: If your spine is severely injured, you can potentially suffer partial to complete paralysis.
- Burns: In cases where the collision results in a fire, you could experience serious burns that could lead to permanent scarring, disfigurement as well as emotional trauma.
Nobody ever wants or expects to be involved in a DUI accident. However, unfortunately, they occur almost daily in Decatur, Georgia. If either you or your loved one has suffered serious injuries because of a DUI accident, don’t hesitate to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Scholle Law. Please contact us today for a free consultation and we can discuss all of the aspects of your situation and determine if you have a drunk driving accident case.