The Buckfire Law firm represents victims of drunk driving accidents in cases against intoxicated drivers and the establishment that served the alcohol prior to the crash.
In addition to the criminal charges against the drunk driver, victims and their families can file a civil lawsuit for recoverable damages.
Our lawyers have won significant settlements in these cases for more than 50 years. We can help you.
Why Choose Us as Your Lawyers
Our attorneys will represent you with skill, integrity, and compassion. We understand the serious harm, both physical and emotional, suffered by victims of drunk driving accidents.
We have been involved with MADD and worked closely with both victims and their families since 1969.
We have earned the highest ratings in the legal profession. Several of our attorneys have been named “Super Lawyers” and we have been honored as a “Best Law Firm” by U.S. News & World Report. If you want to find the best lawyer to sue a drunk driver, call us now.
We will not charge you any legal fees whatsoever unless you receive a settlement. And unlike most other firms, we do not ask for any money upfront to pay the costs of the case. It will not cost you a penny to have us start working on your case immediately.
What is Considered Drunk Driving in Michigan?
Under Michigan law, it is illegal to drive:
- While intoxicated, or impaired, by alcohol, illegal drugs, and some prescribed medications.
- With a bodily alcohol content of 0.08 or more.
- With a bodily alcohol content of 0.17 or more.
- With any amount of cocaine or a Schedule 1 controlled substance in your body.
- For drivers under age 21, it is against the law to drive with a bodily alcohol content of 0.02 or more, or with any presence of alcohol in your body except for that consumed at a generally recognized religious ceremony.
In most circumstances, you will know if the driver that hit you was drunk. Investigating police officers will administer a breathalyzer test and perform roadside sobriety tests to determine if the driver was intoxicated.
If the driver was unlawfully intoxicated, the police will make an arrest for OUI or OWI.
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 and are easily distracted from the focus of driving.
- See and hear clearly: Alcohol impairs visual acuity, peripheral vision, depth perception and the ability to determine the direction of sounds.
Do I Need to File a Police Report for a Drunk Driving Accident?
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 to be filed within twenty-four hours of an accident to get your insurance benefits.
For most crashes, the police will come to the scent to do an investigation and then prepare a formal written report.
Who Pays the Property Damage to my Vehicle?
Michigan has the mini-tort law that determines who is responsible for paying the property damage to the vehicle involved in an accident. This is determined by the type of collision coverage on your vehicle and who was at fault for causing the accident.
The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services provides an excellent guide explaining the mini-tort system.
No-Fault Benefits After a Drunk Driving Accident
Michigan is a no-fault insurance state which means that every automobile is required by law to be covered by a no-fault insurance policy.
No-fault insurance provides valuable benefits to anyone injured in an auto accident. These benefits, referred to as Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits include payment of medical expenses, lost wages, attendant care services, household services, medical mileage, home modification, and other benefits.
You may be entitled to these benefits even if you did not own a car or have your own auto no-fault insurance policy. Vehicle passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists can always get these benefits. Under Michigan law, an injured intoxicated driver can also receive no-fault benefits.
Is Drunk Driving Negligence?
Driving while drunk is negligence. A person who gets behind the wheel and drives a vehicle under the influence of alcohol is negligent.
Cases against drunk drivers include claims of negligence, reckless driving, and violations of state laws. These provide the legal basis for winning a lawsuit.
Drunk Driving Accident Statistics
Despite frequent public service announcements, police warnings, and news stories regarding drinking and driving, the statistics in Michigan demonstrate the problem is only getting worse.
In 2017, there were over 10,000 drinking drivers involved in crashes which caused 359 deaths.
Fatal accidents caused by drunk drivers killed hundreds of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists in addition to occupants of other vehicles as well as the occupants of the vehicle operated by the drinking driver.
These statistics do not include information about the serious injuries caused by drunk drivers in non-fatal accidents. These are often catastrophic and include spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and orthopedic injuries. Victims also suffer psychological trauma from being hit by a drunk driver.
Despite all of the publicity and warnings about the dangers of drunk driving, there are still staggering numbers of accidents every year in Michigan caused by drunk drivers.
The line graph below shows the number of alcohol-involved injuries from 2009-2018 in Michigan.
Injuries took an unorthodox dive in 2014, dropping 15% from the 2009 involved injuries. Since then, it has increased each year except for 2018, when it took its first drop in accidents in four years.
- 2009: 5,678
- 2010: 5,458
- 2011: 5,377
- 2012: 5,475
- 2013: 5,252
- 2014: 4,833
- 2015: 5,232
- 2016: 5,507
- 2017: 5,685
- 2018: 5,392
Can You Sue the Drunk Driver for Hitting You?
Yes. A drunk driver is liable for all injuries caused to another person in an accident while intoxicated or operating under the influence of alcohol. This includes occupants in all vehicles, including passengers in the car being driven by the drunk driver.
In addition to the criminal penalties and fines, a civil lawsuit can be filed to seek compensation from the driver and owner of the vehicle for injuries and harm caused in the accident. Compensation in a lawsuit refers to the settlement money awarded to the victim of a drunk driving accident.
What is the Difference Between a Criminal Case and Civil Lawsuits?
A criminal case is brought by a prosecutor or city attorney against any driver operating a vehicle with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit.
The prosecutor is acting on behalf of the public in general but also on behalf of the victim.
In a criminal case, the purpose is to convict the driver and demand a sentence of probation or jail. A judge can also assess court costs, fines, and order a payment of restitution to the victim for damage to the car and other losses.
In a civil lawsuit, the victim has a lawyer who sues the same person. However, in a lawsuit, the demand is for compensation and payment for the physical and emotional harm that resulted from the crash. A judge in a civil lawsuit does not sentence the defendant to any type of criminal penalties.
What are the Michigan Dram Shop Laws?
A dram shop case is a lawsuit against a bar, restaurant, or another establishment that sold alcoholic drinks to the person who got drunk and caused the accident.
Another possible defendant is the host of a party or event where alcohol is served, especially if the driver was a minor at the time.
Many times, the person drank at several places before the accident. It is necessary to determine which establish or host provided the alcohol to the person when he or she was visibly intoxicated to win this type of lawsuit.
Our legal team frequently hires private investigators to interview witnesses and other bar patrons to prove that the establishment served alcohol to the intoxicated motorist shortly before the accident. This is a key factor in winning your cases.
The Michigan dram shop law requires the bar, restaurant, club or host in question to be notified in writing about the claim within a very short time period. The failure to give this timely notice can destroy your claim. Due to this time restriction, you should call our attorneys immediately to begin working on the case.
How We Help You after Drunk Driving Accident
Our legal team will do everything possible to prove that the drunk driver that hit you was negligent and caused the crash. We also take every measure to determine whether the establishment that sold the liquor to the drunk driver can be held liable to the victim. In most cases, we:
- Get all police accident reports.
- Get all blood alcohol level tests and toxicology reports.
- Subpoena video from bar or restaurant where the drunk driver was drinking prior to the crash.
- Get witness statements from other people in the bar, as well as bartenders and servers.
- Subpoena videos of the accident from the police car.
- Subpoena any traffic light video cameras and surveillance video from buildings in the area to see if they captured the accident on video.
- Subpoena the 911 call made after the accident.
- Interview all eyewitnesses with our own special investigators.
- Take measurements of the roadway and area of the accident.
- Hire toxicology and accident reconstruction experts to prove your case.
Do Insurance Companies Pay Settlements on Behalf of Drunk Drivers?
Yes, the liability insurance company for the intoxicated driver will pay a settlement to any person injured by the intoxicated driver. This includes passengers in the vehicle driven by the drunk driver at the time of the crash. The same insurance policy applies to injured passengers as it does to others.
If the drunk driver had no insurance and the vehicle was uninsured as well, you may still be entitled to a settlement through an uninsured motorist coverage provision in your policy or in the policy of a family member. Our lawyers will review all policies to find out if you are eligible for a settlement.
How Much Are Settlement Payouts?
Settlement amounts vary from case to case depending on the severity of the injury to the victim.
There is no “average” or “typical” settlement and the amounts often depend on the insurance policy limits available for the compensation payout. Our firm has won many substantial settlements in these cases.
The types of recoverable damages in addition to benefits payable under the no-fault insurance laws include:
- Pain and suffering at the time of the accident, during the period of recovery, and going into the future.
- Fright and shock.
- Psychological injuries, such as PTSD and depression. Many victims suffer serious emotional distress and problems after being hurt by a drunk driver.
- Scars and permanent disfigurements.
- Disability from work and activities, including time away from work and being unable to participate in recreational activities.
- Loss of income and wages, including past, present, and future.
- Bystander claims (witnessing a family member injured in an accident).
- Death by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
How Much Time Do I Have to Sue a Drunk Driver?
In Michigan, there is a three-year deadline to sue a drunk driver that caused injuries or death.
The same three-year deadline applies for suing the owner of the motor vehicle operated by the drunk driver at the time of the crash. This period can be extended if the injury victim was under the age of eighteen (18) at the time of the accident. The same three-year period applies for dram shop lawsuits.
How Much do Lawyers Charge for Drunk Driving Accident Cases?
The Buckfire Law Firm represents accident victims under a “contingency fee agreement.” This allows victims and their families to get the possible legal representation without paying any legal fee unless there is a settlement. We even pay all of the case costs and expenses for you.
Our fee does not get paid until the settlement check is received from the insurance company.
Contact the Best Michigan Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers Now
To get started on your case immediately, call the Buckfire Law firm to speak with an experienced and skilled attorney.
We will answer all of your questions, assist you with your insurance paperwork, and begin our investigation.
If you cannot come to our office, we will gladly visit you at the hospital or in your home the same day.
Michigan Drunk Driving References and Resources