As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drunk driving is responsible for 33 deaths and more than 700 injuries every day. That’s because when you mix alcohol with a motor vehicle, you have a significantly impaired ability to operate. You don’t need to have a blood alcohol content of .08 or above to be impaired either. Even a blood alcohol content of .04 can cause impairment.
Police recently started waging an offensive on two fronts. Since recreational use of marijuana is now legal in the State of Washington, THC blood content is being more closely scrutinized. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. According to the most recent data available from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, one out of every six drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 had recently used marijuana. A THC blood content of .05 nanograms per milliliter or more qualifies for a DUI prosecution in Washington.
Injuries by DUI drivers
If you were injured in a motor vehicle crash by a drunk or drugged driver, or if a family member perished because of one, the law is on your side of the case. Our law office has a reputation for thorough trial preparation and aggressive but compassionate advocacy. We have the knowledge, experience and resources necessary to pursue maximum compensation for an accident and injuries that were completely preventable and never should have happened. Those injuries might include:
- Traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries
- Damage to internal organs
- Neck and back injuries
- Fractures and dislocations
A jail or prison sentence doesn’t get you compensated
As soon as a drunk or drugged driver gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, he or she is guilty of negligence per se. Innocent and law abiding motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians are placed at risk. Of course criminal prosecutions of drunk drivers can result in harsh sentences that include jail or prison time, but putting a criminal behind bars does nothing to compensate a victim or a family for their losses. Criminal courts simply don’t have the authority to award damages.
Victims who were injured by a drunk or drugged driver have the right to seek compensation from that driver. So do the families of those who died in accidents caused by them. They might even be able to include others in a lawsuit who contributed to the driver’s condition like social hosts or bar owners. Both economic and non-economic damages can be sought in these cases. Those damages can include:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost earnings
- Any permanent disfigurement
- Any permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of a normal life
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial expenses in the event of a wrongful death
- Punitive damages
These damages can be awarded even if the driver who caused the crash is found not guilty of DUI. That’s because the burden of proof in a civil case is a preponderance of the evidence. The person bring the lawsuit need only show that his or her version of events is more likely true than not true as opposed to the beyond a reasonable doubt burden in a criminal case.
Frequently Asked Questions
I was injured by a drunk driver, but I was the one that ran the stop sign, can I get compensation?
Washington law states that a victim must prove that the at-fault driver was negligent in their driving and caused injury to another person. Even if the impaired driver didn’t do anything wrong in their driving, once they get behind the wheel impaired, then they are automatically negligent.
Since driving impaired is illegal, will the drunk driver’s insurance cover my injuries?
Insurance companies can’t pay compensation on behalf of their client for purposeful acts such as stealing a car. However, the courts have ruled that even though driving drunk is illegal, any damages a drunk driver does is covered by their insurance.
Can I sue the bar or the store that sold the driver alcohol?
Since it’s illegal to sell alcohol to a minor or to someone who’s visibly intoxicated, if a person is injured because of negligently providing the driver alcohol, then the victim can sue the provider for damages. It’s not automatic, and you have to prove that the shop or bar owner knew or should have known that the person was too intoxicated to continue drinking, or that the person was a minor.
Contact a Spokane Car Accident Lawyer
A criminal case against a drunk or drugged driver just isn’t going to get you or your family the compensation that you deserve. We’ll invoke and protect your rights, and we’ll seek maximum compensation for you. Any person who drives under the influence of alcohol or drugs and injures or kills somebody must be held legally and financially responsible. Contact our offices for a free consultation and case evaluation on any accident case anywhere in Washington. No legal fees are due unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for you.