Any car accident can be devastating, leaving you with expensive medical bills and a lengthy recovery process. This is especially true for drunk driving accidents. What happens when someone gets drunk behind the wheel and recklessly injures you or someone you care about? Who can hold them accountable?
We understand that a criminal conviction for a drunk driver can only go so far. You and your family are still saddled with the damages, and you deserve justice of your own. A drunk driving accident attorney in Huntsville can help you recover what you’re owed by the person who caused your accident.
If you have questions about your case or want to get started on a personal injury claim, you can talk to one of our lawyers at a free initial consultation. Our team wants to help you move on from your accident without worrying about how you’re going to pay for your recovery.
Should I File an Injury Claim for a DUI Accident?
If you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, then it’s likely that you have a valid personal injury claim. Many car accident victims find that it’s difficult to prove fault in their accident, but if the other driver was drunk at the time of your crash, it’s much easier to show that you deserve compensation.
To get compensation in a personal injury case, you need to be able to show three things:
- That the other party owed you a duty of care. The duty of care is the level to which a person can reasonably be expected to treat others. That duty is present for all drivers.
- That the other party breached the duty of care. This is known as negligence, and if someone is driving drunk, it’s almost certainly a breach of duty.
- That the other person’s negligence caused specific damages
If these are true, then you have grounds for a lawsuit. You can file your claim and, more often than not, it will be settled before it ever makes it to court. To be sure that you have the best chance at that, you should have an experienced DUI accident attorney by your side.
For a free legal consultation with a Drunk Driving Accident lawyer serving Huntsville, call 800-537-8185
What Counts As Drunk Driving in Huntsville?
Huntsville, as well as the rest of Alabama, considers it illegal to drive when a driver’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is above 0.08% or if they are under the influence of drugs that keep them from safely operating a motor vehicle. Standards are different for commercial truck drivers, young drivers, and school bus drivers.
If a driver refuses a chemical breath test when they’re arrested for a DUI, they can have their license revoked. On their first conviction, a drunk driver could face a fine of between $600 and $1200, up to a year in jail, and the suspension of their license. If it isn’t their first DUI, the driver could face much harsher penalties.
When a driver breaks the law under Ala. Code §32-5A-191, they usually face a criminal charge. That doesn’t keep them from also facing a civil trial–that would be your personal injury claim against them. In fact, a criminal conviction often makes it easier to prove that the other party was responsible for your accident in a civil case.
What Makes a Drunk Driving Accident Different from Other Car Accidents?
The main thing that sets drunk driving accidents apart from other accidents is how dangerous they are. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reports that DUI accidents injure 300,000 people a year. Typically, drunk drivers are faster and more reckless, which means the accidents they’re involved in are often more severe.
However, negligence in drunk driving accidents is often much easier to prove than it is in other car accident cases. If one of the drivers was drunk at the time of the accident, then it’s a pretty clear-cut case as to who caused it and who is liable for the damages.
Having a successful personal injury claim can still be a challenge in any situation, though. Even if it’s obvious who caused your accident, it doesn’t mean they won’t have their own lawyers. Besides, the insurance company will always try to save money by trying to decrease your compensation. You should have a skilled DUI accident lawyer in Huntsville to help.
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Alabama’s Dram Shop Law
One other significant difference between a drunk driving accident and any other car accident is the party that could be held liable. Often, car accident claims are settled between a negligent driver and an injury victim, without any third party involved. However, in a drunk driving accident, that isn’t always the case.
Ala. Code §6-5-71 states that anyone injured by an intoxicated person has the right to not only sue the drunk driver themself but also anyone who irresponsibly served that person alcohol. Often, this applies to bar owners or bartenders who let someone drink knowing that they were likely to drive drunk afterward.
It’s not unheard of for personal injury claims to affect more than one defendant. If multiple parties were responsible for your injuries, you can pursue compensation from all of them. An experienced Huntsville drunk driving accident attorney will be able to investigate your case to hold all at-fault parties accountable.
What Compensation Can You Get After a Drunk Driving Accident in Huntsville?
In your accident case, the way that a personal injury lawyer in Huntsville will be able to get you compensation is by showing the specific damages that you suffered. These can be financial damages that you’ve already incurred, ones that you’re likely to pay in the future, and even non-economic damages to your quality of life.
In a drunk driving accident claim, damages you could be able to recover include:
- Medical expenses
- Property damages
- Lost wages due to missed work
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
In drunk driving cases, it is also possible that you could recover punitive damages in addition to your economic and non-economic ones. Punitive damages are not for any specific injuries or expenses that you suffered–instead, they’re simply meant to punish the at-fault party.
What Is the Punitive Damage Cap?
Judges can assign punitive damages to defendants who act in a particularly malicious way, and they sometimes do so to discourage drunk driving. Alabama’s punitive damage cap for physical injuries is three times compensatory damages or $1,500,000, whichever is lower.
It’s impossible to say how much you stand to receive from your settlement, or if you could be eligible for punitive damages, without knowing the details of your situation. At a free initial consultation with a Huntsville drunk driving accident lawyer, you can get a better idea of how much compensation you may be able to receive.
How a Huntsville DUI Accident Attorney Can Help
After being injured by a drunk driver, your number one priority should be resting and recovering. That’s why a DUI accident attorney from our firm will be by your side to handle all the stressful legal details so you don’t have to. Your Huntsville personal injury lawyer will:
Listen to Your Story
One of the most important things that any lawyer can do for an injured client is listen. At your initial consultation, your attorney will hear out every detail of your story. Based on what you tell them, they will let you know what your options are for moving forward with a drunk driving accident claim.
To show what happened and why you deserve to be paid for your damages, your lawyer will need to gather evidence that proves the other party’s negligence. Evidence can include:
- Photos or video of the accident
- Accident reconstruction
- Driving records, both yours and the other party’s
- Breathalyzer results
- Police reports
Our attorneys have years of experience investigating car accidents, so they know where to look and what to gather to show that you are the victim of a negligent drunk driver.
Calculate Your Damages
Even when you’re the one who suffered the consequences of being hit by a drunk driver, it’s hard to know exactly how much damages you’re owed for your accident. To calculate what you deserve, your lawyer will use your medical records, bills, and other documents to show the extent of the economic and non-economic damages you’ve incurred.
Negotiate with the Insurance Company
Insurance companies want to spend as little money as possible. To do that, they’ll try to trick or bully you into accepting lower compensation than you deserve. They may try to use your own words against you, so you shouldn’t tell them anything they don’t need to know until you have a drunk driving accident lawyer in Huntsville on your case.
A car accident attorney will be able to negotiate with the insurance company, as well as the other party’s lawyers, to get you the best settlement possible. Our team knows what to say to make sure they don’t take advantage of you.
How Long do I Have to Sue for a Drunk Driving Accident?
In Alabama, the statute of limitations for car accidents is two years from the date of the crash. This also applies to drunk driving accidents. If you fail to meet that two-year deadline, then there is a good chance that your claim will be thrown out.
Two years may seem like a long time, but it’s best to contact a lawyer about your case as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to prove that you deserve compensation and the less likely you are to get a good settlement. Don’t wait too long to get a drunk driving accident lawyer on your side.
Talk to a DUI Accident Lawyer in Huntsville for Free
Being injured by a drunk driver is painful, disorienting, and expensive. Because drivers are more reckless when they’re drunk, injuries and other damages from your accident can be more costly to treat than other car accidents. The Huntsville drunk driving accident attorneys at Morris Bart, LLC can help with your bills.
Find out what we can do for you with a FREE consultation with one of our Alabama personal injury lawyers. Call us or contact us online to get in touch with our team today.
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