Mississippi has intensified efforts to clamp drunk driving throughout the state. Even so, drunk drivers remain a threat to other road users, including pedestrians. According to the Mississippi Department of Transportation, drunk driving fatalities accounted for 18% of traffic deaths in the state in 2016. The state sees fewer DUI accidents than the national average, but far too many injuries and losses result from these preventable crashes.
If you lose a loved one, get injured, or suffer losses in a DUI accident, it’s best to learn about your legal options. The experienced DUI accident attorneys at the law offices of Morris Bart help accident victims to pursue justice and get compensated for their losses. We serve Southaven and the surrounding communities in DeSoto County.
DUI Laws and Penalties in Mississippi
Mississippi law considers non-commercial drivers over 21 years as legally drunk if their blood alcohol concentration exceeds 0.08. Those driving commercial vehicles are legally drunk if their blood alcohol level is higher than 0.04. These include school bus drivers. Drivers under 21 years are legally drunk if their blood alcohol concentration exceeds 0.02.
The penalties for driving under the influence in Mississippi vary. First-time offenders can receive a fine of between $250 to $1,000, imprisoned for up to 48 hours, or both. After that, they must attend an alcohol safety education program. Repeat offenders within five years’ risk fines of up to $1,500 and have their drivers’ licenses canceled. Further convictions on similar charges attract penalties of up to $10,000 and a 5-year drivers’ license suspension.
Despite these penalties, many drivers get behind the wheel drunk. When someone drives under the influence, they’re a danger to themselves and other road users. One minute, you could be enjoying a leisurely drive on Highway 305 and get rear-ended by an impaired driver in the next minute. If that happens and you get injured or suffer losses, talk to an experienced attorney promptly to discuss your options.
For a free legal consultation with a Drunk Driving Accident lawyer serving Southaven, call 800-537-8185
Can I Sue a Drunk Driver Who Caused My Injuries?
Anyone who’s injured or suffers losses in an accident caused by an impaired driver can sue for damages. If the jury establishes that the driver was impaired by alcohol or drunk at the time of the accident, the victim could have additional compensation claims. Depending on specific details of the crash, you can recover damages for:
- Present, past, and future medical expenses, based on an expert assessment of your health care needs.
- Pain and suffering.
- Lost wages due to missed work or reduced work hours.
- Emotional distress.
- Modifications that need to be made to your home, working environment, or vehicle due to an impairment resulting from the accident.
- Exemplary or punitive damages to punish the at-fault party and discourage similar behavior by others.
If you lost a loved one in a DUI accident, you can recover damages for loss of consortium, loss of future income, and funeral expenses. The sooner you speak to an attorney and file a compensation claim, the better. Even if your loved one was an occupant in a vehicle driven by an impaired driver, you still have sufficient grounds for filing a compensation claim.
Responsible Parties in Drunk Driving Lawsuits
Most accident victims in Southaven and elsewhere in Mississippi agree that drunk drivers should be responsible for their negligent actions. Determining legal responsibility in a drunk driving accident is often more nuanced and complex. Although the drunk driver often carries much responsibility, other parties could also be responsible. These include:
- The drunk driver’s employer if they allowed them to get behind the wheel while drunk.
- The driver’s insurance company. Mississippi drivers must carry auto liability insurance. If the at-fault driver has insurance, the insurance company shares some responsibility for the crash.
- The bartender, restaurant, or bar that sold alcohol to the impaired driver. Mississippi’s dram shop laws are somewhat limited, but if the at-fault driver was a minor, the liquor store, restaurant, or bar that sold them the alcohol may be held liable.
Civil vs. Criminal DUI Proceedings
After a car accident caused by a drunk driver, there can be two separate proceedings. You can file a civil claim for wrongful death or personal injury and a criminal case if the victims decide to sue. The two cases aren’t tied to each other, but whatever happens in one case could have a significant impact on the other.
For instance, if the court finds the at-fault driver guilty of drunk driving and causing an accident in the criminal case, your chances of winning a lawsuit in the civil case also increase. Nevertheless, a conviction doesn’t always guarantee a favorable outcome in a civil case. Thus, it’s best to work with a team of aggressive personal injury lawyers before pursuing criminal or civil proceedings.
When to File a Lawsuit after a DUI Accident
In Mississippi, driving under the influence is considered a misdemeanor with a two-year statute of limitations. Hence, if you get injured or suffer losses in a DUI accident, you have two years to file your case or compensation claim against the at-fault driver.
If the accident resulted in the death of a loved one, the wrongful death claim should be filed within two years. You should speak to a DUI accident attorney soon after the accident so that your case gets filed before the applicable period passes. If you fail to do so, your case will get dismissed on technicalities.
Injured by a Drunk Driver? Call Us Today
DUI accidents in Mississippi have become far too prevalent. Sadly, those injured are often innocent pedestrians or other motorists going about their duties. The worst thing that can happen to you is getting injured or suffering losses in a preventable accident.
The aggressive attorneys at the law offices of Morris Bart are there to help you get the justice you deserve. When you come to us, our seasoned team will get down to work immediately to secure you fair compensation. The best part is that we won’t charge you a dime in attorney’s fees until we help you to recover damages. Call us today for a free case evaluation.
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