If you get into an accident caused by a drunk driver, you may be eligible to receive compensation. Learn about DUI accidents and the function of Columbus OH DUI accident lawyers.
There are several factors, actions, and inactions that can lead to a car accident. One of them is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drunk driving accidents are quite common in Columbus, Ohio, and other parts of the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 29 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver every day. This is one death every 50 minutes. In addition, the annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion.
The frequency of drunk driving accidents makes drunk drivers a threat to the safety of other road users. Thankfully, when a drunk driver causes a traffic collision, there are consequences. These consequences are both criminal and civil. The civil liability of an impaired driver entails paying compensation to the accident victim.
To get adequate compensation, accident victims may be able to get legal representation from a drunk driving accident lawyer. At Babin Law, our attorneys have helped victims of drunk driving accidents get justice. If we're able to take on your case, we'll work hard to try to get the maximum compensation you're entitled to.
What Amounts to Driving Under the Influence in Columbus, Ohio?
Driving under the influence of alcohol claims thousands of lives. In 2019, 10,142 fatalities were resulting from motor vehicle accidents involving impaired driving. Under Ohio OVI (operating a vehicle impaired) law, drivers face drunk driving charges if they have more than 0.08% blood alcohol content. This legal limit is for adults above the age of 21. Ohio has a zero-tolerance rule for underage drivers; teen drivers must keep their BAC below 0.02%.
Ordinarily, a driver who operates a vehicle beyond legal alcohol consumption commits a traffic offense. However, if there is a motor vehicle accident, it goes beyond violating traffic rules to a criminal offense. As a result, the fault party could face a misdemeanor charge or a felony charge. When this happens, the punishment goes beyond license suspension to jail sentences and fines.
An example of a felony DUI is getting arrested with a significant amount of illegal drugs content in the blood. Even if the medication is prescription drugs, the driver might still face criminal charges if they fail the field sobriety test conducted by the arresting police officer. So, it's best to seek alternative transportation if you consume alcohol or drugs that affect your cognitive functions.
How Does Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol Cause Severe Auto Accidents?
Alcohol consumption has a severe impact on a person's ability to control a vehicle adequately. Depending on the level of alcohol consumed, a person with physical control of an automobile will experience:
- Increased self-confidence
- Loss of efficiency in finer performance tests
- Delayed reaction time
- Diminution of attention, judgment, and control
- Loss of critical judgment
- Decreased sensory response
All these reduce the driver's ability to control themselves behind the wheel. Thus, drunk drivers drive recklessly, beyond the speed limit, and disobey traffic laws. By doing this, they cause injury or fatal crashes in the form of car accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, etc. If you were involved in a traffic collision involving a drunk motorist, a personal injury lawyer may be able to help you get compensation.
What Should You Do After a DUI Accident in Columbus, OH?
A motor vehicle accident is a traumatic experience for anyone involved. It could lead to physical injury and emotional distress for the accident victim. This unbalanced state of mind might derail the victim and keep them from taking the proper steps. The wrong actions could jeopardize your personal injury claim and affect your financial compensation.
Thus, to ensure you get maximum compensation for accident injuries and property damage, our Columbus drunk driving attorneys advise you to take these steps.
Call the Police
In Ohio, different law enforcement agencies respond at an accident site. This could be the Columbus Police Department, the sheriff's office, or the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Calling the police will also ensure first responders arrive at the accident scene as soon as possible. Your testimony to the police at the crash scene and other information would constitute the accident report, a crucial piece of evidence if you hope to get fair compensation.
Take Photos of the Crash Scene
Once the police divert traffic from the accident scene, you can take photos. However, if the accident caused severe injuries, you may be unable to do this yourself. In this instance, you or your lawyer can ask the police for copies of the photos they took of the accident. Pictures show traffic flow, skid marks, point of contact, broken glass, injuries, etc.
The fault driver is usually a stranger and someone you may never see again, so if your injuries allow, get as much information as you can from them. This includes their auto insurance company and policy number, driver's license, vehicle registration, etc. Try to do this before the law enforcement officer arrests them for drunk driving. Again, if you can't do this at the scene, ask your legal team to help you collect evidence.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you're considering legal representation, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible after a Columbus DUI accident. This is more urgent if the accident kept you hospitalized. If retained, an attorney will fight for you to get monetary compensation from the intoxicated driver who caused the accident.
What Compensation Can You Get After a DUI Accident?
Just because an intoxicated driver faces criminal charges doesn't mean they won't face civil action. Ohio law allows accident victims in a drunk driving crash to pursue compensation. Thus, in Columbus, Ohio, victims of a drunk driving accident may get the following damages:
Actual Compensatory Damages
This refers to the compensation for the losses suffered by the victim. It is also known as economic damages and encompasses:
- Lost wages or income
- Medical bills
- Cost of medical equipment
- Cost of repairs to damaged property
If the drunk driver caused a fatal car accident, they may also pay for funeral and burial expenses in a wrongful death claim. Actual damages are easy to calculate as they have a fixed monetary value.
General Compensatory Damages
This refers mostly to the emotional and psychological harm a person suffers due to an accident. Unlike actual damages, general damages have no fixed dollar value. Hence, courts and insurance companies use a multiplier method to arrive at what the victim gets. It includes:
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of opportunity
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium, etc.
When the fault driver has like two to three DUI convictions, the victim may get punitive damages. This compensation is meant to punish habitual offenders and deter others from following the same path. Notably, only courts can award this compensation.
Do I Need Columbus, OH, DUI Accident Lawyers?
This is one question accident victims frequently ask. However, just because the facts point to you as a victim does not mean you'll get maximum compensation from the at-fault driver. Keep in mind that insurance adjusters may be looking for ways to blame the victim and reduce settlement recoveries.
If you are considering hiring a lawyer, here are some ways that hiring a DUI accident lawyer in Columbus, Ohio may be able to help:
- Investigation: You need convincing evidence to convince the insurance company or court that, indeed, you played no role in the accident. While the evidence from the crash scene would help, you need to show if the driver has a drunk or reckless driving history. Again, a lawyer has an investigative team they work with and will gather all the evidence to help you win your claim.
- Representation: A victim without legal representation is easy prey for insurance companies. They know you’re unaware of how the process works and will mount pressure to get you to settle on time; when you do, you might cheat yourself.
- Filing Within Time: If negotiations with the fault driver’s insurer delay, your attorney will keep an eye on the Statute of Limitations and ensure your case doesn’t become statute-barred. In Ohio, personal injury cases have a two-year window, including claims arising from accidents.
- Contingency Fee Payment: You don’t have to pay upfront fees when you work with a personal injury lawyer. You only pay when we win, and our lawyers only get a percentage of the settlement or judgment sum.
Contact Us Today!
At Babin Law, our team of Ohio Lawyers has extensive experience and knowledge in helping DUI accident victims get compensation. We know this is a difficult time for you, and if we're able to take on your case we'll do all we can to ease your pain and get you justice. Get in touch with us today for a free initial consultation.