Georgia Drunk Driving Accident Frequently Asked Questions
Drunk driving claims the life of someone in the U.S. every 40 minutes and is responsible for about one-third of all traffic fatalities. Many people assume that the chance they personally will be involved in an accident with a drunk driver is remote, but three in every ten people will be involved in an accident involving a drunk driver at some point during their lifetime. It is also the case that drunk driving is usually not an isolated event for people who drink and drive. One study found that a drunk driver typically driving drunk approximated 80 times before being arrested for DUI for the first time.
Accidents with a drunk driver tend to lead to very serious injuries and even death. At Montlick and Associates, we have been representing those who have been seriously injured or killed by drunk drivers for over 37 years. If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident with a drunk driver, you should contact an experienced drunk driving accident attorney immediately. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions regarding drunk driving accidents:
What should I do if I am involved in an accident with a drunk driver?
The first order of business is to make sure you have any injuries attended to and that you seek medical treatment. You should also summon the police to the scene of the accident and let the dispatcher know that you believe the other driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You should also make sure you have the name, contact information, and insurance information for the other driver. Also make sure you get the contact information for any witnesses because they may have witnessed erratic behavior or driving as well as other signs of intoxication by the other driver. (For a free accident checklist to keep in your car, click here.)
If the other driver was driving under the influence, I presume that means they were at fault for the accident?
Drunk driving does not in and of itself mean that the driver caused the accident. However, it is likely that the other driver being intoxicated will lead to them being at least partially at fault for the accident. Any erratic driving that you or other witnesses observe, as well as any traffic violations that may have resulted from the driver's intoxication, will also help establish the other driver's fault.
If I was at fault also does this preclude me from seeking compensation for my injuries from the drunk driver?
Georgia is a comparative fault state which means that you may still bring a claim for injuries even if you were partially at fault. The court will allocate fault between the parties based on the percentage of fault that is attributed to each party. As long as you are 49% at fault or less you will be entitled to some recovery, but your damage award would be reduced by your percentage of fault.
How long do I have to pursue a lawsuit against a drunk driver?
The statute of limitations in Georgia for a personal injury lawsuit including injuries from a motor vehicle accident with a drunk driver is two years. However, there are a number of exceptions- one of which is that a minor has two years from the time that they turn 18 years old. However, it is a good idea not to wait to seek legal advice. There may be other time limits that apply to your case. For example, if a condition of the roadway contributed to the accident, you may need to sue a public entity. The timeline for pursuing a claim against a public entity is much shorter so you should seek legal advice immediately. Failure to meet a legal time deadline can result in the loss of the right to recover for your injuries and damages.
What is the legal limit for a presumption that someone is under the influence of alcohol in Georgia?
If a driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater, they will be presumed to be driving under the influence of alcohol.
Who may pursue an action against a drunk driver?
Essentially anyone who is injured by the drunk driver which may include any of the following:
• A driver of another motor vehicle
• Passengers in any of the vehicles
• Heirs and personal representatives of anyone who is killed
Can I sue the bar that served the driver alcohol?
The Georgia Dram Shop Law permits a person to sue a bar, restaurant or other business that serves alcohol to a person who is obviously intoxicated or under 21. If the business serves a person in either situation and the person then is involved in a drunk driving accident, the business may be liable.
If I am a passenger in the car with a drunk driver and am injured in a drunk driving accident, can I sue the driver?
You may be able to sue the driver because the driver has a duty to take reasonable care to drive safely as not to injure others including passengers in one's own car. However, if you served the alcohol to the driver or knew that the driver was intoxicated you may have a more difficult case. If you were the passenger in a vehicle with a drunk driver who caused your injuries, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Georgia drunk driving accident attorney.
Are punitive damages available in a drunk driving accident?
Punitive damages can be substantial and can be a much larger dollar amount than compensatory damages that are intended to cover one's actual damages and losses. Punitive damages are designed to punish particularly egregious conduct and discourage others from engaging in such conduct, and they can potentially be recovered in a drunk driving case.
If a driver is under the influence of drugs, does that change the situation?
If a driver is impaired or driving while under the influence it does not matter if it is drugs or alcohol. However, there is no minimum threshold amount of drugs that needs to be in a driver's system for the driver to be considered impaired. Any drugs in the system is sufficient, though you may still need to show that the drugs actually affected the other driver's judgment or driving skills.
If you are the vicitm of a Georgia drunk driving accident, it is important that you seek immediate legal advice to protect your rights. Drunk driving accidents often involve excessive speed and result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, our Georgia drunk driving accident victim attorneys have been representing those injured or killed in drunk driving accidents throughout the State of Georgia for over a quarter of a century. If you or someone you love has been involved in a serious accident with a drunk driver, you should contact us today for a free consultation. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia including, but not limited to, Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities, towns and rural areas in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com. No matter where you are, we are just a phone call away and we will even come to you.