There’s no excuse for impaired driving. But despite stiff criminal penalties and public awareness campaigns, many people still choose to drink or do drugs and get behind the wheel. When someone makes the decision to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they unnecessarily put others at risk of personal injury or death. Although the criminal justice system will hold the driver responsible, you need an aggressive car accident attorney to hold the driver liable in civil court. The attorneys of Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP will fight for the compensation you deserve if you’ve been injured in a Suburban Maryland DUI accident.
What Is A Suburban Maryland DUI Accident?
Driving under the influence, or DUI, means someone is driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. The similar charge of DWI, or driving while impaired, means the person’s BAC is between 0.07 and 0.08. Impairment does not have to be caused by alcohol. Driving under the influence or impairment of any drugs, even legal or prescription drugs, is also against the law.
Maryland Impaired Driving Statistics
From 2011 to 2015, according to the 2018 Maryland Highway Safety Plan, impaired driving was a factor in one out of every three fatal crashes. Impaired driving was also responsible for one out of every 10 accidents, as well as one out of every 10 accidents with injury.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a drunk or impaired driver, you will be facing significant medical bills, lost time from work, and other damages. That’s where having an experienced Maryland automobile accident attorney is so critical. We help victims in these and other suburban Maryland counties:
- Prince George’s County
- Montgomery County
- Calvert County
- Charles County
- St. Mary’s County
Common Injuries Caused By A DUI Accident
DUI accidents tend to be serious because they are often accompanied by speed, running red lights, and similar traffic infractions. A victim hurt by a drunk or impaired driver could be facing life-threatening injuries and permanent disability as a result. Some of the most common DUI injuries include:
- Bone fractures
- Sprains and strains
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
Tragically, in all too many cases, the victim dies from his or her injuries. Even in less serious cases, the victim may suffer brain damage, permanent disability, and other irreversible and life-altering injuries.
Compensation For Injuries
Victims can recover compensation from the impaired or drunk driver, or their insurance company, for the injuries they’ve suffered. In DUI cases, the typical recoverable damages are:
- Medical bills, including past, present, and future expenses
- Prescription medication costs
- Lost wages due to time missed from work
- Lost earning capacity due to the inability to work at the same level
- Pain and suffering
If the victim dies from his or her injuries, eligible survivors can pursue a wrongful death case. These cases are similar to personal injury cases but cover such expenses as funeral costs, lost companionship, and more.
You may be contacted by the driver’s insurance company and made an offer to settle the accident. But remember, the insurance company is not on your side. Their goal is to minimize or even deny a payout, and they employ a variety of tricks to convince victims to “admit” responsibility or otherwise depress their own damages. Also, the settlement offer may not fully compensate your injuries, especially if you are facing future medical procedures and rehabilitation. Once you settle, however, you waive any future claims against the insurer or driver. Before talking with the insurance company, speak with an experienced Maryland DUI accident attorney.
Holding The Driver Liable For Maryland DUI Accident Damages
A criminal conviction alone will not win you the compensation you need for your injuries. However, evidence of a DUI conviction or arrest can generally be used later in a civil case. While the legal standard of proof in a criminal case is reasonable doubt, the lower standard of preponderance of the evidence applies in civil cases. That means that even if the driver is not convicted in criminal court, he or she can be held civilly liable.
And that starts with pursuing a negligence case. Negligence means the driver failed to uphold a legal obligation in how he or she drove – in this case, under the influence – and therefore caused injury to the victim. The plaintiff has the burden of proving the following elements to win a negligence case against the driver:
Duty. Maryland law obligates drivers to obey traffic regulations, and that includes not driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Breach. By driving drunk or impaired, the driver violates this duty.
Causation. This means proving that the victim’s injuries were directly caused by the driver’s negligent behavior.
Damages. Here, the victim proves what sort of financial losses (e.g. medical bills) he or she suffered due to the accident.
Proving negligence is no easy task, however. Not only is the plaintiff required to prove these elements, but the defendant’s attorney may attempt to shift blame to the victim. That’s because in Maryland if you are even 1% to blame for the accident, you won’t be able to recover from the defendant. So if there’s evidence that, for instance, you violated any traffic safety laws, an ambitious attorney may contest the defendant’s liability to pay anything.
This sort of victim-blaming happens more often than you think. And if you’re not prepared for such an argument, you could lose in court and never get the chance to recover for your injuries. That’s why you need our dedicated and knowledgeable Maryland DUI accident attorneys. We will investigate the factual circumstances of your accident, fight any attempt to impose liability on you, and demand the maximum compensation available under Maryland law.
Contact A Suburban Maryland DUI Accident Attorney
Serious injuries deserve serious legal representation. That’s the level of service you can expect from Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP. Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can help.