Who Suffers From Intoxicated Driving?

In all fifty states, the injured victims of drunk drivers have the legal right to sue for their medical expenses, lost wages, and for their other injury-related losses. When those victims can prove – with the help of their attorneys – that they were injured because of a drunk driver’s negligence, they are entitled under the law to full compensation. Seek medical treatment first if you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, and then arrange to discuss your legal rights and options right away with a good personal injury lawyer, and in the greater Denver area, promptly contact an experienced Denver personal injury attorney.

Precisely what kind of mayhem do drunk drivers cause? Impaired drivers in the United States kill about 10,000 innocent people and injure more than a quarter-of-a-million of us every year. The total economic losses linked to alcohol-related vehicle crashes cost this nation more than $50 billion annually. Yes, the criminal justice system tries in its way to make drunk drivers accountable for their behavior. The criminal courts hand down fines, jail and prison terms, license suspensions, and a number of other penalties, but candidly, no amount of fines or incarceration can make up for the damage, death, and destruction that drunk drivers cause every day on our streets and highways in the state of Colorado and across the United States.

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WHO SUFFERS THE MOST?

Who genuinely suffers the most because of drunk driving? Everywhere, it’s the victims of drunk drivers – other motorists, their passengers, and innocent pedestrians and bystanders. Anyone who shares the street is at risk. If you do manage to live through a vehicle collision with an intoxicated driver, you could survive with a serious brain injury, a spinal cord injury, an amputation, disfigurement, or a permanent disability. The right medical care and rehabilitation for those kinds of catastrophic injuries can cost a million or more dollars over a lifetime. Where can you turn for experienced help if you’re injured and you require that kind of compensation?

After a vehicle collision, if you are injured by an intoxicated driver, you’ll need to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can evaluate the facts in your case, advise you candidly regarding your options, and fight aggressively for your legal rights and for the reimbursement you deserve. You must act promptly after a collision, however. Witnesses swiftly forget the details of a vehicle accident, and pertinent evidence should be gathered and examined as quickly as possible, so you must retain legal counsel at once.

In every state, the amount of time you have to file a personal injury claim after an accident is restricted by a statute of limitations, so if you do not take action right away, you could be waiving your legal right to file an injury claim later. After being injured in a Colorado traffic crash, you have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit. In most cases, the two-year clock starts ticking at the moment you are injured or from the “discovery date” of the injury. Do not wait two years – you need to act right away and to consult quickly with a good personal injury attorney if you have been injured by an impaired driver.

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WHAT MUST YOU PROVE TO PREVAIL?

If the driver who injures you fails a sobriety test or is convicted in a criminal court of driving under the influence, that is important evidence that can help you to prove your personal injury claim, but you only need to prove that the other driver was negligent. You should understand, however, that even if you win a personal injury lawsuit, no matter how much compensation you are awarded, if you’ve been seriously injured, you may still be the one who pays the higher price in the long run for drunk driving.

Even science is now suggesting that the injuries sustained by drunk drivers are often less severe than the injuries drunk drivers themselves inflict on others in serious traffic accidents. University of Illinois at Chicago researchers recently determined that a higher blood alcohol content (BAC) level seems to increase a trauma victim’s chances of survival in a crash. In other words, the more intoxicated a driver is, overall and statistically, the more likely he or she is to survive a serious traffic collision and to avoid a serious injury. “After an injury, if you are intoxicated there seems to be a pretty substantial protective effect,” according to Lee Friedman, the author of the study and an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at UIC. At the highest levels of intoxication, mortality rates were cut by almost fifty percent, Friedman said.

A drunk driver can radically, tragically, and permanently change a lot of lives in just one moment, and there is no way that the stiffest fine or even a lengthy jail term can begin to pay for some of the damages. For example, outpatient therapy for a traumatic brain injury can cost as much as $1,000 a day, and brain injury rehab in a hospital setting can set you back by as much as $50,000 a week. And that’s only considering the physical injuries. Other kinds of injuries, as you might guess, can be much harder to heal.

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WHAT ARE THE EMOTIONAL CONSEQUENCES?

The innocent victims of drunk drivers face genuinely tough emotional and psychological trials. Many grapple on a daily basis with feelings of bleakness, futility, fear, and isolation. If you are healthy and active, imagine that unexpectedly and suddenly you find yourself permanently disabled. It can’t be an easy adjustment for anyone to make. Jobs are sometimes lost. Marriages are sometimes dissolved. Yes, drunk drivers are arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced for their crimes in all fifty states, and virtually every law officer and lawmaker in the nation will tell you insistently that DUI enforcement is a top priority. Still, in the long view, it is the victims and their families who endure the ultimate cost of drunk driving.

When a traffic collision occurs, immediately seek medical attention for yourself and for any others who are hurt. That is the number one priority, and for a number of reasons, it is absolutely imperative for you to be seen by a doctor as soon as possible after an accident – and thus to protect yourself both legally and medically even if you do not “feel” like you have been injured. Adrenaline masks some injuries – other injuries are difficult or impossible to detect immediately. You also need to call the police. You need to obtain the other driver’s name, license plate number, driver’s license number, contact information for that driver, and his or her complete insurance information. If that driver cannot assist you – because of an injury or intoxication or both – ask the police to help you obtain the details you need, and don’t forget to make certain that a copy of the accident report will be made available to you.

Take pictures. Take plenty of pictures. If you are injured in a vehicle collision with an impaired driver, take abundant photographs, or if you are unable to, ask someone to take photographs of the crash site, the vehicle damage, and your injuries. Take as many pictures as you can, and bring those pictures with you when you first consult with your personal injury attorney. Keep all of your doctor’s appointments, and be certain that you continue to obtain the ongoing medical treatment you need after you have been injured. Make and keep copies of the paperwork – the test results, the hospital bills, the police report, and any other documents, receipts, or papers that might be even remotely related to the accident or injury.

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HOW WILL A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER HELP?

Do not accept a quick settlement offer from the insurance company. Speak to a good personal injury attorney first before you agree to sign any insurance forms or documents or make any statements regarding your accident or injury. In fact, do not even speak with the insurance company – that is your attorney’s job, and your attorney should be a sharp negotiator – and absolutely do not settle with an insurance company unless your lawyer first agrees that it is the right choice. Some insurance companies will aggressively try to coax personal injury victims into settling for a figure much lower than a personal injury claim is actually worth.

Clearly, no pile of cash can ever be sufficient to compensate the victims for the havoc, the injuries, and the thousands of lives destroyed by drunk drivers. Still, with an experienced personal injury attorney working on your behalf after an injury, you and your family may be able to move forward positively and confidently in the years ahead. If an intoxicated drive injures you or someone you love, you have rights, options, and good legal alternatives. A personal injury lawsuit is one of those options. Arrange to speak with a good personal injury lawyer as quickly as you can if you have been injured by a drunk driver, and in or near the greater Denver area, consult with an experienced Denver personal injury attorney without delay after you have been injured. The legal help you need is here, but you must act first and make the call.

By: Dallas Norton

Dallas Norton, the founding partner of Norton & Bowers, has practiced law with a focus on personal injury since 1992. Mr. Norton has extensive Colorado roots including grade school in Arvada and high school in Denver. He earned his J.D. from Brigham Young University Law School in 1991. When working on behalf of clients, Mr. Norton draws upon his extensive background in psychology and human resources.