Drunk Driving in Atlanta
Don’t try to handle your own case if you were hit by a drunk driver! Many small fender-benders can be taken care of without hiring an attorney, but when a DUI is involved you need a professional like the drunk driving accident lawyers at MG Law.
First, the law on DUI is more complicated. Second, a unique type of damages (punitive damages), are involved that do not relate to how badly you were hurt or how expensive the medical bills were. Third, insurance companies will capitalize on your lack of experience and get you to settle for way less than the case is worth.
Drunk drivers are a danger in Atlanta, just as they are everywhere in our state. The news is filled with stories of drunk drivers slamming into innocent motorists and causing serious injuries, sometimes even death. Our city’s exciting nightlife only contributes to the problem.
Those injured by drunk drivers feel a justifiable sense of outrage. How can anyone get behind the wheel of a car after having had a few alcoholic beverages? They also are justifiably concerned about the cost of their medical treatment and their inability to work. Let us help.
Drunk Driving Defined
Georgia law defines drunk driving in OCGA § 40-6-391. It states that a person can commit a DUI if they are in actual physical control of a motor vehicle and:
- If they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the extent that they become a less safe driver
- If their alcohol concentration is 0.08 or higher
As you can see, a driver does not need to blow a certain score on a breathalyzer test. So long as drugs or alcohol have impaired the driver, then he can be charged and convicted of DUI.
Civil Suits for Compensation
If a driver was drunk, the state could decide to prosecute the driver for either a misdemeanor or a felony. A conviction can carry serious penalties, including fines, jail time, and a license suspension.
However, this conviction does nothing to compensate the people injured in the accident, who have mounting medical bills and other expenses stemming from the crash.
This is where a civil personal injury suit comes into play. Anyone who has been injured by the negligent or reckless acts of another person can sue for compensation for their injuries. Civil suits are designed to make people “whole,” which means compensating them for their losses.
In the civil suits we bring, our clients have received money to cover medical care, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. These civil suits are independent of any criminal charges, and a driver can be found liable in a civil suit even if they are acquitted in their criminal case.
A DUI Lawyer can Help with Punitive Damages
Drunk driving crashes differ from run-of-the-mill car accidents in a key way. Victims could receive punitive damages as part of their compensation.
Unlike other damages, punitive damages are levied to punish the driver by making him pay a sum of money.
A driver will only need to pay punitive damages if the victim can show by clear and convincing evidence that the driver’s actions showed malice, wantonness, misconduct, or an entire want of care so that the driver was consciously indifferent to what happened. In many cases, a drunk driver will satisfy this standard, which means an injured victim might seek punitive damages.
What to Do After an Atlanta Drunk Driving Accident
Many people suffer more serious injuries in a drunk driving crash than other accidents, usually because the offending motorist was taking reckless action, such as driving much too fast or passing illegally. Some of our clients are so badly hurt they can do nothing but call an ambulance after a collision.
If you can move around, however, then there are other steps you should take that improve your ability to receive compensation.
For example, we recommend that you take note of what makes you think the other driver is intoxicated:
- Does he slur his speech?
- Did he admit to drinking?
- Does he have a bottle in his hand or in his car?
- Does his breath smell of alcohol?
Write down anything you notice and call the police to come to the scene. They should write a police report and, more importantly, have the driver run through field sobriety tests. The officer’s observations could prove critical in the coming civil lawsuit.
Remember to document the accident as best you can before you leave. This means getting pictures of any damage to the vehicles and anything else that seems important. You should use your smartphone to take pictures of dings on the cars, skid marks and debris in the road, and possibly the alcohol bottles in the driver’s car.
Speak with an Atlanta Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
The days after a drunk driving collision can be confusing. We recommend that injured victims focus on their health and then reach out to a seasoned drunk driving accident lawyer in Atlanta who has deep experience with various types of car accidents.