Beyond DUIs: Accidents and injuries caused by drunk drivers

Victims of drunk driving accidents should seek justice and financial recovery for their injuries.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 30 people die every day in motor vehicle accidents involving a drunk driver. And the Arizona Department of Public Safety reports that approximately 7,500 crashes per year involve a driver or pedestrian with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 or more. These statistics don't factor in the number of non-fatal injuries involving an alcohol-impaired person.

As the above information indicates, alcohol-related accidents are all too common. They are painful and emotional for those who are injured, or for the family members of a victim who dies. Drunk driving accidents are also expensive, not just for the victim, but also for the taxpayers through increased health costs and higher insurance premiums. In fact, the CDC estimates that alcohol-related crashes cost our country more than $59 billion each year.

Who is most at risk?

Certain populations are more at risk for being in or causing an alcohol-related accident. This includes:

  • Younger people - According to the CDC, 33 percent of drivers with BACs of .08 or higher who were in fatal drunk driving accidents in 2013 were between ages 21 and 24. This rings especially true near colleges and universities.
  • Motorcyclists - The CDC also reports that in 2013, 27% of motorcyclist killed in crashes had BACs of .08 or higher. They also are at risk as accident victims, as the alcohol may impair other drivers from seeing motorcycles on the road.
  • Drivers with prior DUI convictions - Drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher who are involved in fatal crashes, the CDC reports, are six times more likely to have a prior conviction.

Who is liable for damages?

If you are involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you may be able to file a claim for damages. This is a civil lawsuit, and separate from any criminal charges that person will most likely face. Family members of a fatal crash victim can also file a wrongful death claim against all liable parties.

In order to prove your case, it must be established that the intoxication level of the defendant was too high to safely operate a motor vehicle, showing that he or she failed to consider public safety. Typically evidence that can be used in these cases includes police reports, sobriety tests, witness testimonies and expert opinions.

Arizona laws hold bars and restaurants, as well as their employees, liable for damages caused by serving alcohol to an underage person. The state also holds these establishments responsible for the affects of serving alcohol to an intoxicated person. Hosts of parties and other social gatherings can also be held liable for damages when an intoxicated guest is allowed to drive and causes an accident.

Who can help with injury or death claims?

Even though the criminal system will punish drunk drivers for causing an accident, it is important for victims or families of victims to also seek justice and the financial compensation they deserve.

If you or someone you love has been injured by a drunk driver, contact an attorney right away who specializes in motor vehicle accident claims. Your legal representative will evaluate all the evidence to build your legal claim, and fight to ensure your rights are protected.