Everyone should know by now the dangers of drinking and driving. And yet, drunk driving continues to be a major cause of accidents in Kentucky, Indiana, and nationwide.
When intoxicated drivers get behind the wheel, they not only put their own lives at risk, but the lives and well-being of everyone else on the road. If you or someone you loved one was injured by a drunk driver, or your loved one was killed in a drunk driving accident, the Karl Truman Law Office can help.
The Dangers of Drunk Driving
Alcohol and other drugs impair the ability to drive safely in a number of ways. Though a blood alcohol content of 0.08 is the legal limit, judgment, reaction time, awareness, and visual acuity are all negatively impacted before you are legally considered to be driving under the influence.
As a result, a number of serious accidents may occur when drivers drink or use drugs, including:
- Head-on collisions
- T-bone accidents
- Sideswipe crashes
- Accidents involving excess speed
- Rear-end accidents
- Accidents caused by running a red light or stop sign
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
Drunk or drugged driving is an inherently reckless act. However, in spite of laws against drunk driving and massive public awareness campaigns, it continues to be a problem across the country. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 10,000 people are killed every year in the United States in drunk driving accidents.
Compensation for Drunk Driving Accidents
Any car accident can result in life-altering injuries or, worst of all, death. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to compensation for the following after a drunk driving accident:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Loss of potential earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages (compensation awarded to penalize the defendant for extreme recklessness or misconduct)
If you lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident, our lawyers can pursue damages in a wrongful death claim on your behalf. You may be entitled to compensation for the loss of your loved one’s income, funeral and burial or cremation costs, and more.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage and Drunk Driving Accidents
Kentucky has instituted a no-fault law for car accidents. Even in cases where the accident was caused by the other driver’s intoxication, you must first file a PIP claim through your own insurance company for coverage of the expenses related to your injuries. If your medical expenses exceed the statutory threshold ($1,000) or you suffer broken bones, permanent impairment, or permanent disfigurement as a result of the accident, you can file a claim against the drunk driver.
Indiana is not a no-fault state. You are not required to go through your own insurance before you can file suit against the impaired driver.
Who Is Liable for Drunk Driving Accidents?
The most obvious at-fault party in any drunk driving accident case is the intoxicated driver. However, the driver may not be the only one that can be held accountable for your injuries.
Both Kentucky and Indiana have enacted what are known as “dram shop laws.” These laws allow people who have been injured by a drunk driver to sue the establishment that served them.
Dram Shop Law In Kentucky
The dram shop law in Kentucky provides for limited circumstances in which a person who is hurt in a drunk driving accident can sue the bar, restaurant, or other vendor. Liability is contingent upon proving that the vendor served the driver when a “reasonable person under the same or similar circumstances should know that the person served is already intoxicated at the time of serving.”
Dram Shop Law in Indiana
In Indiana, the dram shop law allows people who are harmed by a drunk driver to take action against the person or business that “furnishes” alcohol if the following criteria are met:
- “[T]he person furnishing the alcoholic beverage had actual knowledge that the person to whom the alcoholic beverage was furnished was visibly intoxicated at the time the alcoholic beverage was furnished; and
- “[T]he intoxication of the person to whom the alcoholic beverage was furnished was a proximate cause of the death, injury, or damage alleged in the complaint.”
“Furnish” means not only to sell alcohol but to provide it free of charge. Thus, in Indiana, social hosts (i.e., someone throwing a party at their home) may be liable if they serve alcohol to a guest who is visibly intoxicated and that guest subsequently injures someone in an accident.
After a Drunk Driving Accident
Your first priority after a car accident is to receive medical attention for your injuries. If you are treated and released at the scene, take time to photograph the accident site, exchange information with the driver, and speak to witnesses. Then, see your doctor or visit the emergency room as soon as possible.
If you interact with the at-fault driver after the accident, you may notice signs of possible impairment. These could include:
- Slurred speech
- Bloodshot or glassy eyes
- Blank or dazed expression
- Stumbling, swaying, and difficulty standing
- Difficulty with fine motor skills
- Red or flushed appearance to the face
You may also smell alcohol on the driver’s breath, or see open alcohol containers on the seat or the floor of the car.
When the police respond to the scene of the accident, be sure to inform the officer what you observed. The officer may conduct a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test to determine if the at-fault driver is impaired. The results of these tests should be included in the police report of the accident, as well as any tickets issued or arrests made.
Obtaining a copy of the police report is a key part of investigating your drunk driving accident claim. You can request a copy from the police on your own, or contact a lawyer for assistance.
It is important to understand that any legal claim you pursue against the at-fault driver is entirely separate from DUI and other charges the driver may face. If the driver is charged with DUI, that is a matter for criminal court. Your personal injury claim, on the other hand, is a civil matter.
Contact Our Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers Today
Drunk driving accidents are completely preventable. Unfortunately, they happen every day, often resulting in serious injuries that can change the lives of victims forever.
At the Karl Truman Law Office, we make it our mission to pursue the full compensation you and your family need and help you achieve the peace of mind you deserve. If you were injured or you lost a family member in a drunk driving accident, you can count on our team to take action on your behalf against the impaired driver for the physical, emotional, and financial burdens you and your loved ones are facing.
Contact the Karl Truman Law Office today for a free consultation. Our lawyers serve the victims of drunk driving accidents in Louisville and nearby areas of Kentucky (call (502) 222-2222) and in Jeffersonville and surrounding areas of Indiana (call (812) 282-8500).