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What Does it Mean to be the Victim of a Drunk Driving Accident?
In a literal sense, being a victim of a drunk driving accident means that you were hit, in your vehicle or outside of it, by a car whose driver had had too much to drink before getting behind the wheel. In a figurative sense, being the victim of a drunk driving accident could mean several losses including monetary damages, loss of wages, pain and suffering, and potentially wrongful death.
In Colorado, what constitutes drunk driving depends on the age of the driver and the type of vehicle being driven, but across the board, all drunk driving accidents come down to the Blood-Alcohol Content (BAC) of the driver.
- Generally speaking, Colorado defines drunk driving as having a BAC higher than .08.
- For anyone under 21, since possessing or consuming alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal in Colorado, a BAC greater than .02 is considered drunk driving. This also comes with other possible Criminal charges like an MIP (Minor in Possession).
- Meanwhile, for the driver of a commercial vehicle, the legal limit is a BAC of .04.
If someone is caught driving drunk, they are subject to criminal penalties such as arrest, a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge, and suspension of their license. For repeat drunk drivers, the severity of these criminal charges increases from a Misdemeanor to a Felony. Related to a DUI is a Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) charge. Though this is similar to a DUI, the BAC range this falls within is slightly lower than that of a DUI, from .05 to .07 instead of above .08.
Drunk driving accidents are entirely preventable. Not only is driving drunk illegal; it is also dangerous to the driver and innocent bystanders on the road. The impact of a drunk driving accident on one’s life is unfortunate and can be drastic. This is why it pays to have a Colorado drunk driving victim accident lawyer who understands the nuance of Colorado’s drunk driving laws and how to navigate them.
Frequency of Drunk Driving Accidents
Although there are other options in today’s day and age to get someone back home after a night out of drinking, like Lyft and Uber, a significant number of people still regularly choose to drive drunk. In 2020, there were 6,181 stops recorded across the state in designated DUI-prevention days (centered around holidays which can involve heavy drinking).
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) shows an increase in the number of fatalities involving drunk driving from 2015-2017, with decreasing numbers from 2018-2019. However, 2020 is a bit of an anomaly. With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing throughout the year, people were discouraged from mixing members of households and bars were closing early. It would make sense that with the lesser traffic on the road, DUIs would diminish under these circumstances. Yet, this was not the case. Despite the volume of traffic decreasing, the number of Colorado DUI-related fatalities increased from 108 in 2019 to 176 in 2020.
Notably, in Colorado (since it is also legal for those over 21) DUI and DWAI also include marijuana. Since marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2013, the number of marijuana-related traffic deaths has increasedfrom 2013 to 2020 by 10%.
Drunk driving is a common cause for DUI or DWAI, likely since alcohol is legal for anyone over 21 and is largely socially accepted. Although, DUI and DWAI are not restricted by the substance the driver consumed. Both charges could include illegal drugs such as meth or heroin. Having any sort of mind-altering substance that can affect response time while driving would be grounds for a DUI or DWAI in Colorado.
Common Injuries as a Result of a Drunk Driving Accident in Colorado
Even minor car accidents can result in injuries. It’s important that you get the best car crash lawyer in Colorado after a car accident so they can help you with the next steps and get you the compensation you deserve.
Common car accident injuries are:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Soft tissue injuries
- Chest injuries
- Internal injuries
- Sprains, strains, and muscle tears
Mansorian Law Group Colorado Drunk Driving Accident Law Firm
If the above sounds like your situation, you may be questioning if you should hire a drunk driving accident lawyer, and if so, how to know which lawyer is right for you.
In making your decision, consider your safety and peace of mind. Ideally, a drunk driving accident lawyer would relieve your stress—not add to it. When looking for a drunk driving accident lawyer, make sure to hire one who takes a personalized approach and considers the best option for your specific case. Cases can last for months if not years, so make sure your drunk driving accident lawyer is reputable and committed.
When looking for a lawyer, ask yourself:
- How long have the lawyer(s) been practicing attorneys?
- Does the firm have experience with this type of case?
- How often do they try versus settle cases?
- What kind of results do they get for their clients?
- What reputation do they have in the legal community?
Can I Handle My Drunk Driving Accident Case Without A Lawyer?
Car accidents that result in injuries and fatalities are on the rise in Colorado. If you or a loved one has been injured at the fault of a drunk driver, a drunk driving accident lawyer can help. Drunk driving accident injuries range in terms of severity, but they almost always cost money and peace of mind. A drunk driving accident lawyer in Colorado will be able to evaluate your case, make a claim against the responsible party, and get you on the path to recovery.
The law and insurance policies can be difficult enough to navigate without also dealing with personal injury or loss. Let a Colorado drunk driving accident lawyer handle everything from negotiating with insurance companies to presenting evidence in court, if your case comes to that.
Drunk driving accidents happen every day, but people are often not well prepared for the day they are injured in one.
Drunk driving accidents cost a lot of money. Between damages to your vehicle, damages to your property inside your vehicle, medical bills, and the time you missed at work, you could be looking at a devastating loss – a loss that you might not ever be able to recover from. A Denver drunk driving accident lawyer can lower your initial costs in negotiations with insurance companies and help you avoid having to pay for damages and lost wages by ensuring that the responsible party and their insurance cover necessary costs.
Drunk driving accidents, and navigating the aftermath of them, are stressful enough. Rather than having to worry about battling for getting money back, leave it to us so you can get on with your life.
Car Accident Laws in Colorado
Car accident laws vary from state to state. Generally, the following laws are applicable in the state of Colorado:
- The at-fault driver must pay for the provable damages that occurred as a result of the accident.
- There is a 3-year (from the date of the incident) statute of limitations for a car accident-related injury or loss
- There is a 2-year (from the date of death) statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim against the driver who was at fault
- Any party is able to receive compensation from another party that has been determined to be more at-fault in an accident, even if they are both considered to be liable
There are three reasons you might not be eligible for receiving compensation after a car accident in Colorado:
- Your vehicle was damaged by another vehicle that you own
- You were driving for a ride share service (Uber, Lyft, etc.), or taxi company
- You are at fault for your own damages
Requirements for a Personal Injury Claim after a Drunk Driving Accident in Colorado
In order to file a personal injury claim in Colorado, your claim must meet the following requirements:
- There must be an identifiable at-fault driver
- You must have bodily injuries
- A medical professional must have your injuries documented
- You must be able to prove that your injuries are a result of the accident
Once you have all of the above information it’s time to call the best car accident lawyer Colorado, if you haven’t already. Never give a recorded statement, written statement, or sign any insurance papers without consulting a lawyer.
Damages That Can Be Recovered After a Drunk Driving Accident in Colorado
There are two types of damages that a distracted driving accident lawyer can recover for you after you’ve been in a crash:
- Economic damages – this refers to medical expenses, loss of wages, and any additional costs that are related to how your injuries alter your life.
- Non-economic damages – this generally refers to pain and suffering; damages that occur as a result of your (or a loved one’s) physical and non-physical injuries.
In order to have medical expenses paid, you will need to give your distracted driving accident lawyer a copy of your medical records, tests, prescriptions, etc.
To have your wages reimbursed, you will have to provide your distracted driving accident lawyer with a recent tax return or recent pay stubs so they can verify your income.
Hiring a Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer in Colorado
It’s always a good idea to call a drunk driving accident lawyer in Colorado, especially if there are serious damages to you, a loved one, or your property. A drunk driving accident can seriously alter your life in the blink of an eye. The best drunk driving accident lawyer in Colorado will be able to help get you what you need to live a healthy and comfortable life. If you would like to schedule a free consultation, complete the form on this page.
What to Do After a Drunk Driving Accident in Colorado
The steps you take after you’ve been injured by a drunk driver in Colorado are crucial because they determine the future of your claim.
- Wait for emergency services. Medical personnel will evaluate you when they arrive
- Do not leave the scene or touch any evidence
- Take photos of the vehicles involved in the accident, road conditions, debris, traffic signals, signage – anything that could be pertinent to building a case
- Exchange insurance information with the other involved driver(s)
- File a police report
- Don’t speak to any insurance agents until you get the best drunk driving accident lawyer
Criminal vs. Civil Law
With a drunk driving accident, it is important to note that there is a difference between the purposes of criminal and civil court, and the laws that correspond with them. Drunk driving is one of several offenses that could have a number of consequences of what to recover from the accident and how.
While the purpose of both criminal and civil law is to set a standard and enforce consequences for misbehavior as necessary, how criminal and civil law function differs. In criminal law, the behaviors committed are what the law is trying to deter, and in order to enforce this, the consequences are related to time. Specifically, the time a defendant may have to serve in jail or prison. In civil law, however, it is about money. The point is to reimburse the injured party so that they are restored to how they were before the accident. If that is not possible, the injured party should be given enough funds to adequately manage under their newfound circumstances.
This may sound similar to the criminal law concept of restitution. There is some overlap in that restitution is about repaying the victim of a criminal act, but it is not the same. This is because what restitution covers is limited to paying out-of-pocket expenses and losses or injuries related to the offender causing the accident.
What restitution does not cover that civil law does are the following:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium (monetary value assigned to a marriage)
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of future earnings
- Punitive damages (to punish for malicious, heinous, grossly negligent conduct)
That being said, drunk driving falls in both categories—criminal and civil law. How each area defines drunk driving is different since there are different means of recovery. For instance, a punishment for a DUI under criminal law may be having your licensed suspended and being arrested. Under civil law, if a drunk driver hit another car and injured the passengers in it, the injured parties could recover the cost of ongoing injuries or property damage from the at-fault drunk driver.
If you are pursuing criminal drunk driving claims and the District Attorney says you have a criminal case, this does not automatically mean that you also have a civil drunk driving case. It is specific to the details of the accident, but we are happy to talk about it with you. If you would like to discuss your case with a lawyer, please fill out the form found on this page.
Dram Shop Law
As the injured person in a drunk driving car accident, more than just the at-fault driver could be responsible. Under Colorado law, if the at-fault driver was drinking at a bar or other establishment with a liquor license that sells alcohol, they are partially liable.
Restaurants, pubs, and bars have a duty to regulate the consumption of alcohol and make sure that they aren’t playing a hand in endangering the public. At some point, these establishments “dram shops” should cut off an unruly patron, call a rideshare service for them, or have them wait to sober up before leaving their place of business and endangering themselves and others in doing so.
With the chance of there being more players involved, drunk driving cases can be a little more complicated than standard car accident cases. That is why it pays to have a lawyer who is familiar with the laws and different parties involved you may not be considering in order to maximize your possible refund in your case.
ER Doctors and Diagnoses
Those pursuing Personal Injury claims often remark that the Emergency Room doctor didn’t diagnose them with an injury, so they assumed that they were okay. While this may be the case, this doesn’t mean that an injury can be ruled out. Emergency Room physicians serve a vital role in our community, but it has its limits.
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) lists the several responsibilities of ER doctors, including being ethical, attuned to modern medicine practices, knowledgeable, and professional. Diagnosing patients, however, is beyond the scope of ER doctors. They are there to save your life whereas diagnoses are to be left to specialists. To use an analogy, ER doctors in essence pour the concrete to lay the foundation of a house. Much like in construction, specialists are akin to subcontractors. If you want someone to put in the insulation, build the walls, or tile the bathroom, you must seek out other professionals with expertise in certain areas to do so. The ER doctor cannot fulfill this role.
Do You Have A Case?
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