Atlanta Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
According to the most recent data, nearly one-fourth of traffic fatalities in Georgia are attributable to drunk driving. Drinking and driving caused 375 deaths in Georgia in 2018; people lose their lives to drunk drivers in Georgia at a higher rate than the national average, and the rate is climbing in the Peach State while the national trend is significantly declining.
There is no question that intoxicated driving impairs one’s ability to drive safely, and there is no excuse for choosing to drink and drive, especially with the thousands of taxis and practically unlimited rideshare options available in Atlanta. Drunk drivers can and should be held accountable to accident victims for the horrible injuries they inflict when they cause a crash.
The Atlanta drunk driving accident lawyers at Shiver Hamilton Campbell are dedicated to helping accident victims recover a full and fair amount of compensation after they have been injured by the negligence of another. Our firm has a record of success in catastrophic injury cases, and our lawyers are frequently called upon by other attorneys to co-counsel or take on their difficult cases. If you or your loved one has been hurt in an accident caused by a drunk driver in metro Atlanta, or if you are an attorney looking for help with your injury case, call Shiver Hamilton Campbell for a free consultation to find out how we can help.
Causes of Drunk Driving Crashes in Atlanta
Alcohol impairs just about every function needed to drive safely – it affects judgment, concentration, reflexes, motor control, alertness, visual acuity, spatial awareness… the list goes on. The more one drinks, the more affected and impaired they become. Drunk drivers are not only more likely to be involved in an accident, but the crashes they cause are often more severe than crashes caused by speeding, distracted or otherwise negligent drivers. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Drunk drivers often don’t take steps at the last minute to avoid a crash or lessen its impact, such as by swerving or slamming on the brakes. Crashes with drunk drivers are often much more forceful than other impacts.
- Drunk drivers are prone to overcorrect their steering when they notice they have drifted out of their lane. This can cause them to veer into oncoming traffic or lose control of their vehicle, which can lead to a rollover accident or other deadly crash.
- Drunk drivers can drift out of their lane into oncoming traffic, leading to a front-end crash. They might also unknowingly drive on the wrong side of the road. Head-on collisions are the most dangerous and deadly type of accident, and drunk drivers are susceptible to causing these wrecks.
- Drunk drivers might drive at excessive speeds far beyond what is safe or that a sober person would intentionally do.
- Drunk drivers are liable to nod off or fall asleep at the wheel, leading to a lane departure, front-end crash, or other catastrophic accident.
DUI Convictions Are Helpful but not Required
Drunk drivers who cause a crash are often cited for driving under the influence and later convicted of DUI in court. Accident victims can use the fact of a citation or DUI conviction as evidence of the driver’s negligence and liability in a civil case for damages. The police evidence might also show just how dangerously intoxicated the driver was at the time of the crash. This evidence can be helpful and make it easier to prove a civil case against a drunk driver, but it is not required. Even if the driver was not arrested at the scene or later prosecuted and convicted, we can still use evidence of the driver’s intoxication against them in a civil case. Civil and criminal cases have different standards of proof (preponderance of the evidence versus guilt beyond a reasonable doubt), so you shouldn’t despair or give up if the driver who hit you didn’t get a DUI. Call our office for a free consultation and case review. You might still have a strong case against the driver.
The Driver’s Insurance Will Cover the Crash
Accident victims sometimes wonder if the other driver’s insurance will cover them if the driver had been drinking. Is it still an “accident” if the driver was intentionally drinking and driving, or will the insurance company refuse to cover its insured for causing an accident while engaged in illegal behavior? The fact is that insurance companies do cover drunk driving accidents. Even if the driver made a conscious choice to drink and drive, they did not intend to cause a wreck, so the accident should be covered like any other. Bring your questions like these to us; if you are unsure whether you have a strong claim against the driver who hit you, we’ll look into it and let you know our opinion.
Unique Factors of Drunk Driver Car Accidents
Drunk driving accidents in Atlanta can happen anywhere and at any time. These accidents can also be devastating due to the recklessness with which a drunk driver may be operating their vehicle. When a drunk driver causes a crash, they often flee the scene, meaning there may be an added complexity of having to track down an at-fault driver to be able to bring an injury claim. This means the complexity in investigating the claim is much greater than other accidents.
Additionally, sometimes bars and restaurants could have liability for drunk driving accidents if they continued to serve someone who was noticeably intoxicated and had a reason to believe that person would drive. If this is the case, the claim can become even more complex. In many of these cases, the investigating attorneys also must cooperate and communicate with investigating officers to find out the specific reasons why the responsible driver was believed to be intoxicated. Information about the level of intoxication including blood alcohol test results, dashboard camera videos, and photographs is also crucial to the investigation of a drunk driving car crash claim.
Collecting Compensation in Atlanta
The damages sought by the plaintiff in drunk driving accidents may include punitive damages, which are meant to punish egregious behavior, in addition to the typical damages. In these cases, typical personal injury damages may include compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Mental anguish
- Decreased quality of life
To determine what specific compensation is available, it may be beneficial to consult an Atlanta drunk driver car accident lawyer. Additionally, a person may want to consider contacting an attorney if they believe they are partially responsible for their injuries. In Atlanta, as long as the injured party is not found to be 50 percent at fault, they could still pursue claims against the drunk driver.
Punitive Damages Might Be Available
Georgia law allows accident victims to hit negligent drivers who were guilty of willful misconduct or a lack of care showing a conscious indifference to the consequences of their behavior with up to $250,000 in punitive damages. Drinking and driving, especially excessive drinking, might fit this definition. It takes extra effort to prove a case of punitive damages against a drunk driver, but our lawyers will gladly go the extra mile to hold drunk drivers accountable and maximize the recovery for our clients.
Bars and Restaurants Might Be Liable Too
Section 51-1-40 of the Georgia Code allows drunk driving accident victims to hold the bar or restaurant that overserved the drunk driver liable for the crash as well as the drunk driver personally, but only in limited circumstances. These circumstances include:
- A person who willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully sells, furnishes or serves alcohol to a person who is not of lawful drinking age, knowing the person will soon be driving a motor vehicle
- A person who knowingly sells, furnishes or serves alcohol to a person in a state of noticeable intoxication, knowing the person will soon be driving
Proving these facts can be difficult. While Georgia law does recognize this legal concept known as “dram shop liability,” the state does not make it easy for injury victims to hold the bar responsible. The state would rather have the liability fall on the person who consumed the alcoholic beverages. Our firm has experience and success in dram shop cases. As with punitive damages, our lawyers are always willing to put in the extra work in appropriate cases to hold all responsible parties liable and maximize the recovery for catastrophic injury victims and their families.
Get the Help You Need After Getting Injured by a Drunk Driver in Metro Atlanta
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver in metro Atlanta, or if you lost a loved one in a drunk driving crash, call Shiver Hamilton Campbell at 404-593-0020 for a free consultation. We take on cases involving the most serious catastrophic injuries or wrongful death, and we fight to secure significant compensation for our clients who were hurt because of another’s negligence or wrongful conduct.