Contact a North Carolina DWI Attorney if You Were Hurt By a Drunk Driver
Despite numerous programs, warning, and efforts to keep people from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, people still do it. The drivers may be drunk, but the statistics are sobering. According to the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, there were 11,475 alcohol-involved crashes in the state in 2020. In those crashes, 7,426 people were injured, and 412 were killed.
If you’ve been injured in a crash caused by a drunk driver, here are answers to some questions you may have.
The Ultimate Guide to North Carolina DWI Law
- Do I Have to Wait to Seek Compensation Until After the Criminal Proceeding Is Finished?
- Are There Accidents That Happen More Frequently in DWI Crashes?
- Are Certain Injuries Common in Drunk Driving Crashes?
- What if I Was Injured in a Crash With a Drunk Driver in a Commercial Truck?
- What if a Drunk Driver Hit Me While I Was on a Motorcycle?
- Determining Liability in a Drunk Driving Crash
- What Kind of Damages Could I Get From a DWI Driver Who Injures Me?
- The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin Stands Ready to Assist Those Injured by Drunk Drivers
Do I Have to Wait to Seek Compensation Until After the Criminal Proceeding Is Finished?
No! And the fact is, you may not be able to. There is really no telling how long it may take for a criminal case to play out. In the meantime, when you’re injured by a drunk driver, you have medical bills to deal with, missed time at work, and bills to pay.
Criminal courts and civil courts are not dependent on each other. Furthermore, the longer you wait, the more you may risk your case for three distinct reasons.
- There is a statute of limitations in North Carolina, so you must file your case within three years of the date of your injury (two years if a death is involved).
- The longer you wait to investigate and file your case, the harder it can be to gather necessary evidence – especially if you aren’t getting medical treatment.
- While you may not be gathering that evidence and building a case, the insurance company certainly is, and they may to do everything they can to limit what they pay you.
Are There Accidents That Happen More Frequently in DWI Crashes?
It’s difficult to say. Drunk drivers, much like distracted drivers, suffer from impaired reaction times – they don’t respond as quickly to their surroundings. A 2019 study tested drivers with different blood-alcohol content (BAC) levels in a simulator. Drivers with the legal limit of 0.08 suffered from a 116% slower reaction time to an event involving other vehicles blocking their paths.
In other words, it takes drunk drivers more than twice as long to react to other cars on the road.
This can result in almost every type of car accident you can imagine, including:
- Head-on or wrong-way crashes
- Rear-end crashes
- Side swipe or t-bone crashes
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Are Certain Injuries Common in Drunk Driving Crashes?
Injuries suffered in a drunk driving crash can run the full gamut, including whiplash, broken bones, brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries. In some cases, these crashes are fatal, in which case the family of the deceased would need to pursue a wrongful death case.
Drunk drivers are also more apt to hit-and-run. A AAA Foundation report cites studies showing that drivers who leave the scene are between two and nine times more likely to have been intoxicated at the time of collision.
Whatever you do, contact an experienced DWI injury attorney as soon as possible after your crash. The insurance company may do anything it can to get you to settle quickly, because they know that cases involving their clients under the influence could be very expensive.[ Back to Top ]
What if I Was Injured in a Crash With a Drunk Driver in a Commercial Truck?
This is incredibly rare, but it can happen. Commercial truckers are highly regulated. Of more than 375,000 traffic enforcement inspections of commercial truckers in 2017, only 839 involved a drug or alcohol violation. According to a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) dating back to 2007, truck drivers under the influence of alcohol were a factor in just 1% of trucking accidents.
However, the DWI standards are different for truck drivers as compared to normal drivers. While a regular driver is considered impaired when above 0.08% BAC, a truck driver’s limit is set at just 0.04% by the FMCSA. Therefore, the definition of “drunk” is much stricter.
There are many additional rules and regulations required of truckers, and an attorney with experience in trucking accidents can sort through them. Adding to the complexity, multiple insurance companies and policies can be involved with a single commercial truck (insuring the driver, the truck, the trailer, and the cargo).
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What if a Drunk Driver Hit Me While I Was on a Motorcycle?
Statistically speaking, you’re fortunate to be alive. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2017, motorcyclists were 27 times more likely to die in a crash than passenger car occupants. As if motorcyclists weren’t at risk enough from motorists who “looked but failed to see,” drunk drivers are even worse.
If, as the statistic in the section above states, drivers with a 0.08% BAC took twice as long to react to other cars, imagine something less visible or noticeable like a motorcycle?
There are a number of ways that crashes involving motorcycles differ. Sadly, these can be to the detriment of the rider. The fact of the matter is that many juries don’t sympathize with motorcyclists. Most people don’t ride, so it’s harder from them to identify with you. Insurance companies know this, and some may use it as leverage to reduce their settlement offer.
If you or a loved one is injured in an accident while on a motorcycle, it’s highly advisable to seek the counsel of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. If you lost a loved one in the accident, an attorney can assist you with a wrongful death claim.
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Determining Liability in a Drunk Driving Crash
It was all the driver’s fault, right? Perhaps, but there may be more to it than that. The driver certainly bears some blame, but they may not be alone! For example:
- Who supplied alcohol to the drunk driver?
- Did a bartender serve the driver alcohol when he or she was visibly intoxicated?
- Did a homeowner who was hosting a party give the driver alcohol?
- If the defendant is under the legal age to drink alcohol (21), who supplied them with alcohol?
The “Dram Shop Case” and “Social Host Liability” – More Negligence in Drunk Driving Cases
Someone other than the driver who was driving while intoxicated could have acted negligently in the crash that injured you. The legal terms for cases like these are “dram shop case” or “social host liability.”
In handling a dram shop case, you want your attorney to try to leave no stone unturned. A bartender or a homeowner hosting a party likely will claim the defendant only had a couple of drinks and did not appear drunk. However, we may be able to get a different story by interviewing other people at the bar or event. That’s just another reason you should call us at 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation.
In general, businesses and homeowners who serve alcohol to someone have a responsibility to refuse to provide alcohol if that person is visibly intoxicated. North Carolina law has established that a host of a party, or a bartender or serving staff, cannot serve a visibly intoxicated person if they know they are going to drive. If they are found liable, they may also be responsible for damages in your drunk driving case.[ Back to Top ]
What Kind of Damages Could I Get From a DWI Driver Who Injures Me?
It depends. All cases have their own unique circumstances, and even two people with an identical injury may have completely different claims for compensation.
For example, an 80 year-old retired man who loses an arm in a crash caused by a drunk driver and a 25 year-old woman with the same injury will have different claims. The man is retired and no longer works, so he won’t have much claim for lost wages. The 25 year-old woman, however, has 40 years of work ahead that is severely affected by the loss of her arm. She should be able to build a substantial case seeking compensation for those lost wages. This is just one illustration of how unique each case can be.
And no matter what the nature of your injuries may be, insurance companies already know one thing for certain – DWI cases can be very, very costly for them. Why?
North Carolina’s Punitive Damage Cap…With an Exception
In North Carolina, the law generally caps punitive damage awards in personal injury cases at $250,000. However – according to § 1D-26:
G.S. 1D-25(b) shall not apply to a claim for punitive damages for injury or harm arising from a defendant’s operation of a motor vehicle if the actions of the defendant in operating the motor vehicle would give rise to an offense of driving while impaired under G.S. 20-138.1, 20-138.2, or 20-138.5. (1995, c. 514, s. 1.)
In other words, there is no cap on punitive damages if the defendant caused harm while driving drunk.
That’s right. In DWI cases, there is no cap on the amount of punitive damages an injured person can seek. Punitive damages are those awarded by a jury in order to punish or send a message to a defendant.[ Back to Top ]
The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin Stands Ready to Assist Those Injured by Drunk Drivers
Being hurt in an accident is bad enough. When the driver who hurt you was drunk, it’s doubly frustrating because you know it could have been avoided. Their carelessness should not cost you. Tell them you mean business.
Call us and put our experience to work for you. As North Carolina DWI injury lawyers, we aggressively pursue the facts as we try to build the strongest case possible. Insurance companies do not scare us. We can help you understand the value of your case, and fight for the compensation you may deserve. Call us right now at 1-866-900-7078, contact us online, or chat with us for a free case evaluation.
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