Drunk driving poses a serious danger to all road users, and when you find yourself in a car accident involving an intoxicated driver, it can be an aggravating ordeal. It’s important to understand that Georgia operates under an “at-fault” system, where the responsible party for the collision bears the financial responsibility for damages. While it may seem intuitive that a drunk driver is automatically at fault, proving this in a legal context can be more complex. In this article, we’ll delve into the distinction between fault and breaking the law in the context of drunk driving accidents and the crucial aspects of determining liability in such cases.
Distinguishing Fault and Breaking the Law
Understanding the Legal Distinction Driving under the influence is a criminal offense that endangers lives and is subject to strict legal penalties. However, it’s essential to recognize that while a drunk driver may face criminal charges, it does not automatically imply fault in a civil court.
The Civil Liability Perspective
When pursuing auto insurance or personal injury claims, proving that the influence of alcohol or drugs directly caused the accident becomes paramount. In some instances, intoxicated drivers may exhibit behaviors that sober drivers could display. Insurance companies often seek ways to minimize payouts, including challenging the assertion that the drunk driver is solely responsible for the accident. Engaging a seasoned drunk driving accident attorney is invaluable in advocating for the compensation you are entitled to.
Proving the Driver’s State of Intoxication
Establishing Alcohol Impairment Under Georgia law, controlling a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher constitutes a criminal offense. Additional regulations include a 0.04% BAC threshold for commercial vehicle operators and a 0.02% BAC limit for individuals under 21 years of age. Additionally, driving under the influence of any drug, alcohol, or controlled substance, or having any amount of illegal drugs in your system after a chemical test, is illegal.
A criminal conviction for driving under the influence serves as evidence that the driver was indeed under the influence, but it’s necessary to demonstrate that their state of intoxication was a direct factor in causing the accident.
Establishing Fault in a Drunk Driving Accident
To hold a drunk driver liable for accident-related damages, it is crucial to prove:
Negligence is demonstrated through actions such as traffic violations, swerving, speeding, or aggressive driving that directly contributed to the accident. It reflects a breach of the duty of care that all drivers owe to others on the road.
It’s imperative to show that the actions of the intoxicated driver were the direct cause of the accident. In some instances, the drunk driver may behave recklessly, but the other involved driver may have violated traffic rules, even while sober, which could have been the primary cause of the collision. In such cases, the drunk driver may not be solely responsible, even if their behavior was negligent.
Comparative Fault in Drunk Driving Claims
Comparative fault is a concept that recognizes both parties may share some level of responsibility for an accident. It’s essential to understand that being involved in a collision with a drunk driver doesn’t automatically absolve you of potential liability. If you are found to have been negligent or engaged in actions that contributed to the accident, your compensation in a personal injury or insurance claim may be reduced proportionately.
Legal Representation for Atlanta Drunk Driving Accidents
After being involved in a car accident with a drunk driver, seeking legal counsel is crucial. You may be facing medical expenses, pain from injuries, emotional trauma, and loss of income. Handling negotiations with insurance companies and navigating the legal system can be overwhelming. A drunk driving accident attorney can assist you in dealing with insurance providers and work to mitigate your degree of fault.
Contact Gunn Law Group, LLC today to explore how our experienced legal team can support your claim.