There is no question that the involvement of an impaired driver heightens the probability of vehicle occupants suffering major injuries. If you or a loved was involved in a car crash caused by a driver under the influence of alcohol, financial compensation may be available for your significant losses. Unfortunately, many injured victims of alcohol-related crashes fail to receive the financial compensation they need and rightfully deserve. A seasoned lawyer who is well-versed with claims based on drunk driving car accidents in Michigan may be able to help.
At Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C., our attorneys have significant experience representing victims of crashes with intoxicated drivers and fighting for the maximum amount of compensation for their injuries. Every case is different and the severity of injuries resulting from each individual crash is different. Every injury case we accept, we dedicate our full time and energy to helping ensure you receive a positive outcome or settlement.
How Alcohol Impairs a Person’s Ability to Drive
There are many reasons why drinking and driving is dangerous and reckless. Even small amounts of alcohol can affect a person’s ability to:
Coordinate motor skills—loss of coordination can affect a person’s reaction time and ability to react to changing traffic conditions
Make sound decisions—alcohol affects mental functions and judgment. Reason and caution can be reduced after only one or two drinks
Concentrate on multiple actions—Impaired drivers struggle to concentrate on multiple tasks at once
See and hear clearly—alcohol impairs visual acuity, peripheral vision, depth perception and the ability to determine the direction of sounds
Accident Prevention for Drunk Driving
In Michigan, any driver with blood-alcohol absorption (BAC) above .08 percent is considered “per se intoxicated” under the law. Driving under the influence is a serious offense and is the cause of many severe crashes throughout the state. Because of the inherently reckless nature of driving while inebriated, there are numerous ways a person can try to protect themselves from being the victim of an impaired driver. These include:
Volunteer to be a designated driver
Always use a safety seat belt
Use four-lane highways whenever possible
Avoid travel after midnight
Choose vehicles with airbags
Refer to safety ratings before selecting your next vehicle
Never drive when fatigued
Don’t do anything that would distract you from keeping your full attention on the road—such as talking on the phone, texting, eating, putting on make-up
Steer clear of aggressive drivers
By adhering to these and other accident prevention techniques, a person could take an active role in avoiding drunk driving car accidents in Michigan.
Underage Drinking and Driving
Young drivers naturally have less experience than older drivers. When alcohol is involved with a minor behind the wheel, the likelihood of a severe crash is increased exponentially. Unfortunately, teenagers are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they are intoxicated.
Similarly, the use of marijuana or other narcotics also greatly increases the risk of crashes for teenage and underage drivers. This behavior leads to slower reaction times, altered perception, and a loss of hand-eye coordination and motor skills.
Fault in Inebriated Driving Accidents
Anyone who has suffered an injury because of an inebriated driver should not have to pay for the resulting medical bills. It is all too common, however, that victims of intoxicated drivers are forced to pay for their own past and future medical expenses, while not being able to earn a living because of their injuries. This is why anyone who has suffered a loss because of an impaired driver should discuss his or her legal options after a Michigan drunk driving car accident with an attorney.
A driver does not have to be criminally convicted of driving while inebriated in order to be held civilly liable for an accident. When the victim of the crash is not offered fair compensation, they may file a claim to hold the at-fault driver financially responsible for the damages they suffered.
During the claims process, the victim will have to show that the at-fault driver’s negligence contributed to the crash. Because driving while under the influence is a clear example of negligence, anyone injured by an intoxicated driver will likely have viable grounds for a claim. However, a dedicated legal professional could help to gather evidence to bolster a claim, including:
Video from a bar or restaurant where the driver was drinking prior to the crash
Witness statements from other people in the bar, as well as bartenders and servers
Videos of the accident site from the police car
Traffic light video cameras
Surveillance video from buildings in the area—to see if they captured the wreck
A recording of the 911 call made after the collision
Interviews of all eyewitnesses
Measurements of the roadway and area of the accident
Have a 3d animation created to demonstrate how the accident occurred to the judge and jury
Types of Compensation Available for a Drunk Driving Crash
Anyone injured in a crash with an inebriated driver should be aware of the types of compensation available for a drunk driving car accident in Michigan. The state’s no-fault insurance benefits may provide compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other associated costs. These claims would therefore not be included in a claim against an inebriated driver. No-fault benefits are typically paid by the victim’s own car insurance company or another auto insurance company, depending on the facts of the accident.
An injured claimant can also claim compensation for numerous economic and non-economic damages. These include pain and suffering, decreased earning capacity, and loss of enjoyment of life. A compassionate and detail-oriented attorney could help calculate the losses a person has suffered after a car crash with an intoxicated driver in order to request adequate compensation in a claim.
Furthermore, Michigan law requires drivers to report any accident involving a motor vehicle that causes more than $1,000 in property damage, results in death or injury, or damages an unattended vehicle or other property. Many auto insurance policies require a written report be filed within twenty-four hours of an accident to get insurance benefits. Lastly, if a driver is killed in a crash with an intoxicated motorist, the decedent’s surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit to request compensation.
Dram Shop Lawsuits
While an at-fault driver can be pursued for compensation, a person injured by an intoxicated driver might also be able to pursue a claim against a bar or restaurant for serving drinks to a clearly intoxicated motorist. The legal definition of this “visible intoxication” is based on whether or not an average citizen would be able to identify the intoxicated individual’s current state. If the motorist is under 21, however, visible intoxication does not need to be shown.
However, the state’s Dram Shop Act—outlined in MCL 436.1801—requires that an investigation into the accident begin as soon as possible. It also requires that the bar or restaurant in question be notified within 120 days following a crash. Furthermore, a lawsuit must be filed in the proper trial court within two years of an injury or death of a loved one. It is also important to name the drunk driver in question during this lawsuit.
A knowledgeable drunk driving car accident lawyer in Michigan might help by hiring a private investigator to interview witnesses and other bar patrons in order to prove that the establishment served alcohol to an intoxicated motorist shortly before the accident. A delay in beginning this investigation may result in difficulty tracking down these witnesses later or may mean that the time limit for naming the bar as a defendant expires.
The Time Limit to File a Claim
In Michigan, there is a three-year deadline—known as the statute of limitations—to sue anyone who was driving under the influence and caused a crash. This same three-year deadline applies for suing the owner of the motor vehicle operated by the inebriated driver at the time of the crash. The same three year period applies for Dram Shop Lawsuits.
However, this period can usually be extended if the victim was under the age of eighteen at the time of the collision. A persistent attorney could help a claimant to pursue a timely claim against a drunk driver that meets the statute of limitations in Michigan.
Call an Attorney for Legal Help After a Michigan Drunk Driving Car Accident
It can be challenging to determine the potential value of an injury claim. In general, individuals who are driving while under the influence of alcohol can be held accountable for all losses suffered by the victims. Furthermore, if an intoxicated driver caused someone’s death, the surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to compensate for the pain and suffering of the decedent prior to death, the loss of society and companionship to surviving family members, and additional economic losses.
No matter the circumstances, if you or a loved one were injured by an inebriated driver in a drunk driving car accident in Michigan, a caring lawyer may be able to help. The tenacious attorneys at Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. could help to assess your case, gather evidence, and file the appropriate claims on your behalf. Call today to learn more and schedule a free consultation.
Larry and his entire team are not only top notch, razor sharp attorneys, but practice with utmost professionalism, compassion and the most integrity you will find anywhere in town. Anyone is lucky to retain them.