If a drunk driver caused an accident in which you got hurt, you can file a lawsuit for your injuries. It is automatically negligent to drive while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. When a person’s negligence causes injury, the negligent person is liable to the person harmed. Please note that while the same legal principles apply to drivers who drive while drug-impaired, this article will refer to drunk drivers.
The Four-Prong Test for Drunk Driving Liability
Before we can file a lawsuit against someone, we have to establish that the person is legally responsible for your injuries. We already know that drunk drivers are negligent, but Georgia law requires that the facts satisfy more than mere negligence. We have to prove all four of these elements to hold the drunk driver liable for your injuries.
- Duty of care. We must show that the impaired driver had a duty of care toward you. All drivers have a duty of care toward other drivers, passengers, pedestrian, bicyclists, motorcycle riders, and anyone else in their path. The driver must operate the motor vehicle in a cautious manner, follow the rules of the road, and pay close attention to what is happening on the street. One of the laws that govern drivers is the legal requirement to be sober, or at least under the legal limit, when at the wheel. Be aware that the duty not to be under the influence of alcohol while driving can mean different things to different people. A driver might not be able to operate a car safely after one or two drinks, even though her alcohol blood level is under the legal limit.
- Breach of the duty of care. When a person fails to meet a legal duty of care, it is negligence. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a double violation of the duty of care.First, a drunk driver breaks the law against driving while under the influence. Second, he violates the general duty of care of all drivers in that he fails to operate his vehicle carefully. The police report from the accident will be part of our evidence to prove the driver’s negligence of impaired driving.
- Causation. The negligent behavior caused your injuries. You can only sue the person whose negligence caused your injuries. If there was a drunk driver caught up in your accident, but a different driver’s negligence caused your injuries, you must sue the at-fault driver, not the drunk driver. The drunk driver will probably still experience consequences, like a DUI conviction, but he is only liable for the harm he causes as a result of his negligence. On the other hand, if his negligence contributed to the accident that hurt you, we can sue the drunk driver and anyone else whose negligence caused the wreck.
- You sustained measurable injuries. If you were fortunate enough to escape a drunk driver wreck with no physical injuries, we cannot sue the impaired driver, even if his negligence caused the crash. He is responsible for the losses he caused, like property damage to your car, but a personal injury lawsuit requires quantifiable injuries.
A terrifying close call will not satisfy the measurable injuries requirement. Examples of qualifying injuries include such things as bruises, lacerations, fractures, back injuries, whiplash, and other injuries for which you received medical care.
Damages in Drunk Driving Lawsuits
The at-fault driver will have to pay for your injuries, both the economic damages (easily measurable in dollars) and the non-economic losses (harder to quantify in financial terms).
Your economic damages can include:
- Medical expenses. All reasonable costs that resulted from the wreck, like the ambulance, emergency room, surgery, doctors, hospital, prescription drugs, and physical therapy.
- Lost wages to compensate you for wages, salary, or other income you missed out on because of the wreck, initial trauma care, ongoing medical treatments, and recuperation.
- Long-term care and assistance if your injuries make you unable to live independently without help with your medical care and daily personal activities.
Your non-economic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering to compensate you for your physical pain, emotional distress, and inconvenience. We will calculate a reasonable amount for this type of loss.
- Your spouse’s claim for loss of consortium if your injuries affected your relationship.
Collecting Compensation When You Were Partly at Fault
Sometimes people assume that they cannot recover damages if they were at all negligent, but that is not true. Georgia follows the law of comparative fault, which allows people to collect some damages even if their behavior was not perfect. The law will reduce your compensation in proportion to the amount of your fault compared to the total negligence.
Say the judge finds that you were five percent at fault in the wreck, the law will deduct five percent from the compensation you would otherwise get in the case. So, if the judge awards you $100,000, you will get $95,000 after the court deducts five percent ($5,000) from the $100,000 judgment.
Getting Help for a Drunk Driving Injury Lawsuit in Georgia
The statistics show that alcohol use and drunk driving are one of the main causes of car accidents in Georgia. If you got hurt in a drunk driving accident, we can talk with you about filing a lawsuit against the impaired driver. You do not have to sort out all the legal issues or figure out whether you are eligible for compensation. We will take care of those things for you.
We cannot say how much compensation you are likely to receive without meeting with you and going over the facts of your case. We will be happy to answer your questions and tell you some things you can expect. We do not charge for this service. We do not charge any legal fees until you get compensation.
Just call us today at 404-474-0804, and we will set up your free consultation. There is no obligation.