Hit by a Drunk Driver

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A college buddy of mine was driving home from work and was hit by a drunk driver. I keep insisting that he should hire a lawyer and take legal action as, even though he did not suffer major injuries, there was property damage and he had some minor injuries that required medical attention. And that does not include the emotional toll of having experienced an accident that should have never occurred in the first place. How can I convince him to seek out an attorney, what steps are there in these types of cases, and what kind of protection or rights does he have?


Any accident can be a scary experience. Some turn into bad nightmare scenarios. When these accidents involve drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or other substances, this may be even more frustrating as such accidents should never have occurred. We are glad that your friend escaped without significant injuries. Others have not been and may not be as lucky, and your friend does have some legal recourse that he can peruse. At the very least, you can present him with the options that are available.


The Problem


According to theCenter for Disease Control, every 48 minutes one person dies because of a drunk or impaired driver. In the United States, over 30% of deaths that occur because of a traffic accident involving alcohol.Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) state that driving under the influence (DUI) is the number one cause of roadway deaths in the U.S. This is a serious problem that needs to be addressed continually. Although the statistics have improved over the last decade, the number of preventable deaths dictates that even more work needs to be done. The first reason that your friend should file suit is to hold the driver accountable for his or her actions. Although the courts will try him criminally, the civil case is up to your buddy. The reality is that he could have died, and someone should be civilly and criminally accountable for that.


States and their Reactions


All states have enacted laws to protect the public against drunk drivers. All 50 states have a zero-tolerance policy for individuals under the age of 21 where any level of alcohol is illegal. Additionally, it is illegal in all 50 states to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or above. The uniformity in the state laws and their respective enforcement has saved tens of thousands of lives and have proven to be a successful tool in reducing the number of DUI cases. Other measures such as sobriety checkpoints, license suspensions, intervention programs, and ignition locks have helped reduce the negative statistics. Results from a study by the Boston University Medical Center suggested that stronger alcohol policies do protect young drivers from dying in crashes that involve alcohol. But interventionists who promote sober living assert that more work needs to be done, and this is the next reason that your friend should seek legal counsel. Tougher consequences that move beyond criminal prosecution may prevent and discourage others from engaging in drinking and driving.


Legal Actions


Although the Justice Department will pursue criminal charges, it is up to the victim and their families to file suit civilly to receive compensation for any injuries. Remember, injuries can be physical or mental. Physical injuries are easy to see, and a medical professional can provide a diagnosis rather quickly. Mental injuries are more complicated to diagnose but can be equally debilitating.


Driving and riding anxiety, caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a serious car accident, is a disabling condition that can make it hard for people to perform normal daily tasks. Therefore, it is important to determine the extent of the injuries suffered from the accident as they may not necessarily be immediately visible. Such injuries can be costly to manage in the long term. Furthermore, the at-fault party may be under-insured, and the insurance policy in question may not cover the full extent of the damages. You can file claims with your insurance to make up the difference. Ultimately, it will be important to seek legal consultation, even if you do not continue with a civil claim.


Preszler law firm even suggests reviewing the businesses that served the alcohol to see if such establishments are liable for negligence. These claims are called Dram Shop Claims, and the purpose of such actions is to ensure that businesses that serve alcohol are responsible for protecting patrons and their level of intoxication. There are many avenues to follow, should your friend determine that it is something that he wants to do. It’s obvious that the at-fault driver is liable for for the damage to the vehicle, note the veteran sales team at this Volkswagon dealership in Morris County, NJ, but the driver is also responsible for any injuries your friend sustained. It is important for your friend to realize that the extent of his injuries, physical or mental, may not be apparent yet. It is important for him to see specialists in these areas and these consultations may be costly. However, the at-fault driver is liable for these costs, and your friend has the right to be treated for injuries, even if these are not visible.


Final Thoughts


Being a victim of anything is frustrating. What makes the situation even more frustrating is the lack of responsibility displayed by the behavior of the offending party. Although your friend escaped serious bodily injury, it is important to hold those responsible accountable for the crime. Also, it is not yet clear if driver anxiety, PTSD, or other mental injuries are present or may become visible in the future. Let’s hope for the best. The fact is, it could have been a lot worse, and many victims are not as lucky. Perusing civil legal action against the drunk driver is going to be your friend’s personal choice; however, he should keep in mind that this is a learning opportunity for all parties involved and accountability is something taught and learned when people face the consequences of their actions.


“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” — Thomas Edison