Yes, you can sue a drunk driver for your injuries if the impaired person caused the crash. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is negligence. When drunk driving causes an accident, the negligent person is liable for the resulting damages.
What We Have to Prove to Win Compensation for You in a Drunk Driving Accident
In order to sue a drunk driver, we have to prove their negligence caused the wreck that hurt you. There are three elements to negligence:
Duty of Care
This factor is the easiest of the three to prove since all drivers have a duty of care. They must operate their vehicles in a prudent manner, keep an alert lookout, and follow the laws and rules of the road (which include not drinking and driving).
Breach of Duty of Care
Breach of the duty of care is negligence. Driving while impaired violates the duty of care in two ways—a drunk driver is not operating their vehicle in a prudent manner, and is breaking the law against driving while under the influence. We will prove this breach of duty by using the police report from the accident and information from the criminal DUI case.
This is if the injuries you sustained were the result of the drunk driver, and not someone else. For example, if one driver ran a red light and another driver was drunk, and the driver who ran the red light caused your injuries, we must pursue a claim against that driver. On the other hand, if the drunk driver slammed into your car and caused the harm to you, we can sue the drunk driver. We will use the police report, your medical records, and accident reconstructionist experts, if needed, to build your case on causation.
What Damages You Can Get in an Impaired Driving Crash
Every case is different, and we cannot state an amount you can expect to receive for your losses without evaluating the individual facts of your claim. There are, however, ways to get justice for drunk driving by collecting damages, which may include:
- Medical expenses: This category can encompass all reasonable costs for medical care you had to undergo because of the wreck. Some examples are bills from the ambulance, emergency room, hospital, surgeon, specialists, your regular doctor, prescription medications, and physical therapy. We will use the medical records and invoices to prove this aspect of your claim.
- Lost wages: You can recover income you lost because of the crash, your medical treatment, and recuperation time away from work. We will establish this item by using your employer’s records.
- Long-term care: If you need long-term care because of catastrophic injuries from the collision, we can include the anticipated costs in your claim. We use medical and vocational experts to show the court what you will need.
- Decreased earning capacity: Some people need to cut back their hours or take a lower-paying job after severe injuries from a motor vehicle accident. If this happens to you, we can pursue your losses.
- Disability: If you are unable to work due to your injuries, we can include this in your claim. We use medical and vocational experts to prove these claims.
- Pain and suffering: Anyone who has suffered significant injuries in a car crash knows that merely getting the out-of-pocket losses from the wreck paid by the at-fault driver is grossly inadequate to compensate you for the experience. We will use your medical bills and lost wages to calculate a reasonable amount you should get for your pain and suffering.
- Other non-economic losses: Depending on the facts of your case, it may be appropriate to seek compensation for things like disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium.
What Happens if You Were Partly at Fault
Georgia law will allow you to recover part of your losses even if you were also to blame for the accident, as long as your negligence was less than 50 percent of the cause of the wreck. This legal concept is comparative fault (or comparative negligence), and the 50 percent cutoff makes Georgia’s rule of law on this issue modified comparative fault.
Here is how Georgia’s modified comparative fault works:
- If the drunk driver was, by way of example, 90 percent at fault and you were only ten percent at fault, you will get 90 percent of your damages. So, if you had $100,000 in losses, the law would reduce your compensation in proportion to the amount of your fault. After the ten percent reduction for your negligence, you would recover $90,000 of your $100,000 claim.
- If, on the other hand, both you and the other driver were driving while impaired, the judge might find you each equally at fault, that is, each of you are 50 percent negligent. The 50 percent bar to recovery would preclude you both from getting damages from each other.