Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys in Birmingham
Drunk driving claims the lives of more than 10,000 individuals each year, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). This averages out to more than 30 people per day, or one DUI-related death every 48 minutes. Chemical impairment is a contributing factor in approximately 40% of all motor vehicle accidents in United States, and these accidents cost those involved more than $44 billion annually.
There is no doubt that driving drunk is one of the most negligent actions a motorist can take. It is well known that chemical impairment severely alters a person’s state of mind, which can make it very dangerous for themselves and others they share the roads with when they get behind the wheel. But despite countless deaths and injuries over the years and decades of campaigns raising public awareness about this issue, far too many motorists still choose to drive while they are intoxicated.
If you or a loved one was injured or killed at the hands of a drunk driver, you deserve to be fully compensated. Do not let the insurance company push you around or bully you into accepting a lowball settlement. Before you accept any offer from the other side, call the experienced Alabama personal injury lawyers at Mann & Potter to discuss your case.
Since 1997, Mann & Potter, PC has stood up for individuals in Alabama who have been injured through no fault of their own. Our lawyers have extensive knowledge of personal injury law, and we have a successful track record with even the most complex cases. We understand the outrage victims and their families feel when their lives are turned upside down because of a DUI accident. You did not ask for this – you were simply driving along minding your own business. And the next thing you know, you are involved in a collision with a drunk driver.
In what was a totally needless and senseless accident, you suddenly have to deal with physical pain from injuries, lost wages due to time missed from work, and mounting medical bills. We fight hard to help ensure that you receive the just compensation you deserve (for all of your losses), and that those responsible for your injuries are held fully accountable.
Drunk Driving Laws in Alabama
Adult motorists are automatically considered legally intoxicated in Alabama when they are driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. This is known as a “per se” DUI. Motorists may also be charged for drunk driving if they are intoxicated to the point where they are unable to safely operate a vehicle.
The legal BAC limits for DUI are lower in certain circumstances. For example, if you are a minor who is under the age of 21, you can be charged for DUI with a BAC of 0.02. Those operating commercial vehicles can be charged for DUI with a BAC of 0.04.
Drunk driving is a criminal offense in Alabama, punishable with heavy fines, loss of driving privileges, a possibility of jail time, community service requirements, and other consequences. Penalties may be enhanced when there are aggravated circumstances, such as a DUI accident with serious bodily injuries or fatalities.
Although an individual who is criminally convicted for drunk driving can face harsh penalties, these penalties do nothing to compensate victims who are injured when the driver who is intoxicated causes a crash. A separate civil claim must be filed seeking monetary compensation for the injuries. This could come in the form of a settlement with the drunk driver’s insurance company, or a damage award from a personal injury lawsuit.
Alabama Dram Shop Laws and Social Host Liability
A drunk driver may not be the only one responsible for an accident that they cause. It may also be possible to hold an establishment (such as a bar or liquor store) liable if they supplied alcohol to a patron who was clearly already intoxicated. To prove liability in cases like these, you will usually need eyewitness testimony, video evidence, or preferably both. Social hosts may also be on the hook for providing alcohol to a visibly intoxicated guest, especially if alcohol was provided to a minor under the age of 21.
Pursing an Alabama Drunk Driving Accident Claim
The state of Alabama allows victims of those injured in DUI accidents to pursue compensation in the form of monetary damages. Compensatory damages can be divided into two general categories:
- Economic Damages: These are direct monetary losses suffered by the victim, such as medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and property damage.
- Non-Economic Damages: These are losses that are real but more intangible and difficult to quantify. Examples include physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, diminished quality of life, disfigurement, and permanent disability.
In more limited cases, punitive damages may be awarded. Also known as “exemplary damages”, punitive damages are not meant to compensate the victim, but rather to “punish” the party responsible for the injuries and help deter them (and others) from similarly egregious actions in the future.
Punitive damages are usually difficult to obtain in a standard car accident case, because you must prove that the other driver’s actions were willful, malicious, or grossly negligent. In drunk driving accident cases, however, punitive damages are usually more attainable, because the actions of a drunk driver often rise to the level where they would be appropriate.
It is important to note that to be successful in a civil claim from a DUI accident, you do not have to show that the driver committed a criminal violation – you only need to show that the accident happened because of their negligence or reckless actions. So, even if the individual is not ultimately convicted for drunk driving, they can still be held responsible for the accident.
On the flip side, just because a driver was intoxicated at the time the accident occurred, there is no guarantee that you will be able to recover damages from them. Alabama is a “contributory negligence” state. This means that if an injured party is found to have “contributed” in any way to the underlying accident, they can be barred from recovering damages.
Insurance companies will often push back hard in a drunk driving accident case and claim that the injured party was at least partially at fault, hoping to get out of paying compensation for their injuries. This is one of many reasons it is important to get a skilled attorney involved as early as possible in the process, so your legal rights can be fully protected.
Contact our Seasoned Birmingham, AL DUI Accident Lawyers
If you or someone close to you was injured or killed in a drunk driving accident, the attorneys at Mann & Potter are ready to go to work for you. Call us today at 205-879-9661 to schedule a free consultation and case assessment. You may also reach out to us online or stop by our Birmingham office in person. Or if you are unable to come to our office, we will come to you.