Birmingham Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
In 2019, 5,263 crashes occurred in Alabama where a driver was suspected of alcohol or drug impairment. Of the 930 traffic fatalities that year, 210 had apparent alcohol or drug involvement. Overall, death only occurs in less than one-half of one percent of all crashes, but when alcohol is involved, the rate rises to 3.3%, so the odds of dying in a crash with a drunk driver are 7.62 times greater than an accident that doesn’t involve alcohol.
Drunk driving is dangerous, and everybody knows it. Still, too many people get behind the wheel when they know they shouldn’t, putting their lives and the safety of everyone else on the road at risk. If you or a loved one has been hit by a drunk driver, the Birmingham drunk driving accident attorneys at Goldasich, Vick & Fulk can help you recover significant compensation to deal with the catastrophic injuries and damages a wreck with a drunk driver can cause. Call us for a free consultation to discuss your potential claims.
Why Drunk Driving Accidents Are Often So Catastrophic
Most people who cause a crash realize they are about to be in an accident before it happens, if only just seconds before. They generally have the presence of mind to slam on the brakes and lessen the impact of the crash, even if they can’t avoid it. Drunk drivers lack the reflexes and judgment to take these actions; sometimes they don’t even realize a crash is going to happen before it actually does. Drunk drivers are also more likely to drive at dangerously unsafe speeds without being aware of it or to drift over and drive on the wrong side of the road, increasing the chances of a head-on collision, one of the most dangerous and deadliest types of auto accidents.
Effect of DUI on Personal Injury Case
A person can be arrested for drunk driving in Alabama if their blood alcohol content registers .08% or greater, if they are “under the influence of alcohol,” or if they are under the influence of any substance which impairs their mental or physical faculties to a degree which renders them incapable of safely driving.
If a person gets arrested for drunk driving after an injury action, they can be charged with DUI and perhaps other crimes as well, depending on if they caused serious injury or death. The fact of a DUI conviction can be used in a civil case by the accident victim, where it provides strong evidence that the drunk driver was negligent and at fault in causing the crash. This makes it easier to prove a civil case against a drunk driver and recover compensation from them for the damage they have caused.
Even if they are not charged or convicted, evidence of drunk driving can still be introduced in a civil case and provide powerful evidence of liability. Criminal prosecutors must meet a much higher standard than plaintiffs in a civil case, so don’t be discouraged if the person was not convicted of DUI. You can still find justice by holding them accountable in a civil trial.
It is also important to know that a drunk driver’s liability insurance should cover their damages to you. Some people worry that an insurance policy won’t cover a drunk driving accident because drinking and driving is an intentional act, and some insurance adjustors might lead you to believe that. This is not the case, however. Even if a person chose to drink and drive, they didn’t choose to crash. The accident is still an accident, and their insurance company should be on the hook to the accident victims hurt by the drunk driver.
Punitive Damages in Birmingham Drunk Driving Car Accidents
Alabama law allows personal injury plaintiffs to seek punitive damages when the defendant “consciously or deliberately engaged in oppression, fraud, wantonness, or malice.” The law designs “wantonness” as “reckless or conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.” It could be argued that a person who chooses to drink and drive, especially if they are high above the legal limit, meets this definition of wantonness. In such a case, the jury can award punitive damages to punish the defendant on top of any other damages awarded to compensate the injury victim for their losses. In Alabama, a punitive damage award can be up to three times the compensatory damages (medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering) or $1,500,000, whichever is greater.
Punitive damages must be proven by “clear and convincing evidence,” which is a higher standard than the “preponderance (weight) of the evidence” required to prove other elements of a personal injury negligence claim. Regardless, in appropriate cases, our experienced Birmingham trial team puts in the extra effort required to prove a case for punitive damages to maximize the compensation and justice in the case for our clients.
Help Is Available for People Hit by Drunk Drivers in Birmingham
There are a lot of moving parts to a civil case when an accident victim is hit by a drunk driver, and there is significant compensation that must be recovered to hold drivers accountable, achieve justice in the case, and help accident victims deal with the medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering they have been forced to endure. Goldasich, Vick & Fulk can help with that. Our Birmingham personal injury attorneys work every day to hold negligent actors accountable for the harm they have caused in the most severe and catastrophic cases.
If you or a loved one has been seriously hurt by a drunk driver, call the Birmingham personal injury lawyers at Goldasich, Vick & Fulk to find out how we can help you get the compensation you need and deserve.