The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, reported more than 2,500 deaths in the US in a single month (December) of 2010, with nearly 800 of those being caused by individuals who were impaired by alcohol, or driving drunk or intoxicated. This does not even touch on the accidents caused by individuals who were impaired by other substances, including illegal drugs or prescription medications. Yet, when it comes to drunk driving alone, there is a rate of about one fatality every half hour in the US. If this is alarming to you, you are not alone. If you have been the victim of an intoxicated driver, then the following information should help you in deciding what you need to do next and how to go about seeking compensation.
Understanding the Laws Concerning DUI Offenses in Georgia
If you find yourself confused by Georgia’s DUI laws, then, again, you are not alone. These laws can be extremely complicated and confusing to anyone. This is where it helps to have a Georgia auto accident attorney on your side to help you make sense of the laws and your place within the legal system, which is designed to prevent and protect the victims of DUI auto accidents.
One thing that is helpful to know is that being the victim of an auto accident caused by someone driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs puts you in a position to recover more compensation than you might from other types of auto accident claims. This is because the person who is driving under the influence is seen as dangerously irresponsible and this tends to move any judge or jury to ensure that you receive maximum compensation. In many situations, these cases never go to trial because everyone knows how it is likely to turn out. Both sides are motivated to settle the claim outside of court to prevent the time and expense of a trial.
In Georgia, you are legally allowed to recover compensation for all of your injuries, medical expenses, future medical expenses, lost wages, lost future earning potential, and – in many cases, pain and suffering and/or punitive damages, when you’ve been injured by an intoxicated driver. This means that you can recover all of your expenses related to hospital and ER bills, the cost of any ambulance rides, reimbursement for your prescriptions and any necessary medical devices, and the expense of your rehabilitation. Punitive damages are intended to punish the responsible party and you are much more likely to receive these after an auto accident caused by a drunk or otherwise intoxicated driver, especially if it is a second, third, or further offense.
How Many People Die From Intoxicated Driving Accidents?
It turns out that we don’t really know the answer to this question because drunk driving fatalities are actually underreported in Georgia and throughout the US. This was discovered by NHTSA researchers who looked at death certificates and relevant blood alcohol content levels in people who have died in auto accidents. While there were 21% of auto accident deaths related to DUIs over the course of 10 years, only 3% were reported as such on the death certificate.
Part of the reason that these incidents are underreported is because it can take time for the authorities to obtain a blood alcohol content reading from the blood test of a deceased individual. The death certificates simply come out before the results are obtained. Further, different states handle such deaths differently. Not all states require that the driver’s BAC is established after that driver dies in an auto accident.
What About Accidents Caused by Drivers Intoxicated by Other Substances?
Most people think of impaired drivers as being impaired by alcohol – drunk drivers – yet, this is not the only form of impaired driving that can lead to a serious auto accident in Georgia. More than 16% of drivers who are screened for legal or illegal substances test positive in the US, though this does not necessarily mean that the substance will cause impairment or an accident. Sometimes, the substances are prescription medications, and sometimes, they are illegal drugs. Prescription medications may or may not impair the driver’s ability to drive safely. It all depends on the substance and how the driver is affected by that substance. For example, some prescribed medications warn that users of the medication should not drive or operate heavy machinery until they know how the medication affects them. For some, the medication may not impair their ability to drive. For others, the same medication may cause significant impairment.
Then, there are those who are taking illegal drugs, including some that are known for causing significant impairment when it comes to operating a vehicle. If you were in an auto accident caused by a driver who was impaired by alcohol or any other substance, then you’ll want to seek the advice of an experienced Georgia auto accident attorney. At The Law Office of John B. Jackson, we are here to help you in establishing liability in your auto accident claim and discussing the options available to you for proving that liability and pursuing compensation for your injuries and losses. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.