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Drunk Driver Victim Lawyers

Drunk Driver Victim Lawyers in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia

Driving under the influence is one of the most common and deadly crimes committed in the United States.

 

In 2019, there were 10,142 people killed in drunk driving accidents. One-third of all traffic deaths in the U.S. involve a drunk driver.

If you or a loved one have been a victim of a drunk driver, you have legal rights. Before the medical bills start to pile up, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. to schedule a free consultation.

Please call an attorney in our office before talking to the drunk driver’s insurance company or lawyer. The other parties might sound like they want to help, but they will attempt to use the information you tell them against you. We can file your personal injury claim to recover the financial compensation you deserve for your damages.

 

Why Does a Drunk Driving Victim Need an Accident Attorney?

The DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while intoxicated) laws in each state are different and can be confusing. A personal injury  attorney can explain the laws in your state. A Maryland, Virginia, or DC personal injury lawyer knows the laws for accident victims in each state and can help ensure you obtain all the compensation you deserve.  Our personal injury lawyers are your advocates.

Your accident attorney will make sure you receive fair compensation from the responsible party for your damages. We will talk to the insurance company on your behalf, handle negotiations with opposing counsel and go to trial if needed to ensure you make a full recovery for your injuries. Experienced accident attorneys:

  • review medical records and police reports
  • interview witnesses
  • gather evidence
  • work with experts to recreate the accident scene

 

The personal injury lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. have a formidable reputation in the legal community. Our firm has 50 years of experience and proven success representing clients in DUI and DWI accidents.

 

The Blood Alcohol Concentration Limit in All States is 0.08

In the 1980s, to decrease drunk driving accidents causing injury and death, the government lowered the BAC legal limit to 0.08. It also raised the legal drinking age to 21 years old. In addition, government agencies created campaigns to educate the public about the dangers of drinking and driving. Consequently, there was a decrease in drunk driving related death after the change.

However, with these limits still in place today, drivers with alcohol concentrations at or above 0.08 continue to be responsible for approximately one-third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. or 10,000 preventable deaths per year. DUI and DWI accidents are responsible for even more injuries

 

Underage Drinking and Driving

No person under the age of 21 in the United States is legally allowed to consume, possess, or purchase alcoholic beverages. If someone under 21 years old drives with any amount of alcohol in their body, they can be charged.  

 

What is Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)?

Blood alcohol concentration tells you how much alcohol is in someone’s body. Alcohol is quickly absorbed through the stomach and small intestine walls, allowing the alcohol to travel through the bloodstream to the rest of the body, including the brain and lungs. Blood alcohol concentration can be measured using a blood test or breath-testing device like a breathalyzer. Alcohol is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream; therefore, tests can detect BAC within 30 minutes after you have a drink.

 

Drugs Can Cause Impaired Driving

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the following medications could affect your ability to drive:

  • marijuana
  • opioid pain relievers
  • some prescription drugs for anxiety
  • anti-seizure drugs
  • antipsychotic drugs
  • some antidepressants
  • products containing codeine
  • some cold medications
  • allergy medications, especially antihistamines
  • sleeping pills
  • muscle relaxants
  • motion sickness medications
  • medications that contain stimulants

 

Drugs, as well as some medications, can also impair your ability to drive by causing the following symptoms:

  • blurred vision
  • dizziness
  • impaired motor skills and coordination
  • slow reactions
  • inability to focus or pay attention
  • poor judgment
  • excitability
  • fainting
  • drowsiness

Always read and follow the directions on medication packaging or handouts provided by the pharmacy. Then, inform your doctor if you experience side effects and follow your doctor’s advice regarding future use.

Who Can Be Liable in a Drunk Driving Accident?

Other parties, in addition to the person driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, may be responsible.  However, these liability laws for a drunk driving accident are different in each state. A DUI or DWI victim attorney will explain the types of liability laws that are applicable in your state.

Bar or Restaurant Staff or Owner

In some cases, businesses or employees who sell and serve alcohol may be liable when a patron injures a third party. For example, when a bar or restaurant serves alcohol to an intoxicated person, their actions may qualify as negligence if that patron leaves and causes an accident. This type of liability varies by state. These are called dram shop laws. Currently, the District of Columbia and most states have some version of dram shop laws in place. However, Maryland and Virginia are among the few states that do not have dram shop laws.

  • D.C.—The District of Columbia law provides that if a business unreasonably serves alcohol to a person who is visibly intoxicated, and then that person harms someone else because they were drunk, the establishment can be held responsible for the injury.
  • Maryland—Maryland bans the sale of alcohol to intoxicated persons and anyone under the age of 21.  A business can be held legally responsible for serving alcohol to someone under 21 who then injures someone. However, unlike DC a business cannot be sued for the act of serving alcohol to someone 21 or over, who is visibly intoxicated. 
  • Virginia—In Virginia businesses cannot be held liable for serving alcohol to a drunk driver or anyone else who causes injury due to intoxication.

Hosts

When a guest leaves a party where alcohol has been served and is involved in a drunk driving accident, the host may be liable (social host liability), similar to a bar owner as set forth above.   

Negligent Entrustment

Suppose a vehicle owner negligently allows another person to drive when they know the other person is intoxicated. In that case, a drunk driving accident victim may have the legal right to pursue damages against the vehicle owner.

 

What Can A DUI or DWI Accident Victim of Claim for Damages? 

Drivers are aware that impaired driving places others on the road at risk of suffering preventable harm. Therefore, negligent drivers can be held fully accountable for victims’ damages, which may include:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Lost wages and future earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of financial or emotional support
  • Loss of consortium

 

Can A DUI or DWI Accident Victim Claim Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages punish the drunk driver—the ability to pursue these damages after a DUI or DWI accident varies in each state. Drunk driving has dangerous consequences and is responsible for thousands of preventable deaths each year. In addition, there are many other transportation options available. As a result, there is a push to allow punitive damages in DUI and DWI claims in all states.

Currently, it is difficult to be awarded punitive damages for a DUI or DWI accident in most states. However, a personal injury attorney can help you determine what damages you can claim.

Washington D.C.

Under District of Columbia Law, punitive damages may be awarded after a DUI or DWI accident if the plaintiff (accident victim) can prove that the defendant (impaired driver) acted with a conscious disregard for someone’s life. Therefore, the plaintiff must show that:

“(1) the defendant acted with evil motive, actual malice, deliberate violence or oppression, or with intent to injure, or in willful disregard for the rights of the plaintiff; and (2) the defendant’s conduct itself was outrageous, grossly fraudulent, or reckless towards the safety of the plaintiff.” D.C. v. Bamidele, 103 A.3d 516,522 (D.C. 2014)

Maryland

In Maryland, you usually cannot recover punitive damages for a DUI accident because you need to prove malice or intent to harm. Proving malice is very difficult because while a drunk driver may have been reckless in getting behind a wheel of a car, it is very hard to prove that they actually intended to hurt someone.  

Virginia

Virginia Code Section 8.01-44.5  provides that an injured party can obtain  punitive damages if they can prove the following three elements:

(i) when the incident causing the injury or death occurred, the defendant had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent or more by weight by volume or 0.15 grams or more per 210 liters of breath; 

(ii) at the time the defendant began drinking alcohol, or during the time he was drinking alcohol, he knew or should have known that his ability to operate a motor vehicle, engine, or train would be impaired, or when he was operating a motor vehicle he knew or should have known that his ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired; and 

(iii) the defendant’s intoxication was a proximate cause of the injury to or death of the plaintiff. 

 

Why Choose Our Law Firm?

If you or a loved one are a victim of a drunk driving accident, you can trust our law firm to fight for justice and fair compensation. Our personal injury attorneys will go to trial and fight in the courtroom if necessary.

The accident lawyer you choose to represent you in your personal injury case can make the difference in your compensation. Here are a few reasons why selecting a Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. accident lawyer is the right choice:

  • CSCS has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for clients and family members.
  • Our lawyers have represented countless individuals in cases against drunk drivers.
  • Our four active Partners have over 100 years of experience combined.
  • We work personally with clients and are always available when they need us.
  • We provide a free consultation, and you only pay if you receive compensation.
  • Two attorneys at our firm are Board Certified—a distinction held by a small percentage of lawyers.

 

Discuss Your Case During a FREE Consultation

Have you have been injured by a drunk driver and have questions about the compensation you can recover? Contact the accident attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. An attorney will be happy to discuss your case during a FREE consultation.

We represent accident victims and families throughout DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

Contact us online or call our office at (202) 695-1832 to learn more about your legal rights. Our lawyers know the law and fight for DUI and DWI accident victims.

 

 

 

Contact Us Today


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