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In New Mexico, the potential criminal penalties for driving while under the influence of alcohol can be harsh. Anyone who spends time watching television has likely seen advertisements for lawyers who can help defend drunk drivers. However, criminal penalties typically do not compensate victims for the damage the accident caused. Fortunately, victims may be able to seek compensation for their injuries with the help of an Albuquerque drunk driving victim’s attorney.
NEW MEXICO DRUNK DRIVING STATISTICS
Drinking and driving is never a smart thing to do. Unfortunately, New Mexico has one of the highest rates of drunk driving and drunk driving deaths. The downtown streets of Albuquerque and the long stretches of interstate in and around the city can make for dangerous conditions when combined with a drunk driver. Some statistics about drunk driving in Albuquerque include:
- From 2003 to 2012, 1,254 people died from drunk driving accidents in New Mexico. That equals out to a little over 100 people per year.
- 2% of New Mexicans reported in a survey that they had gotten on the road after drinking too much in the past 30 days.
- In the United States, around one in three traffic-related deaths involves a drunk driver.
ALCOHOL’S EFFECTS ON DRIVERS
Driving while under the influence of alcohol is an extremely dangerous crime. The following are some brief descriptions of the different effects that alcohol can have on a driver.
Slow Reaction Time
Alcohol present in the bloodstream slows drivers’ reaction time. This means, for example, that if the driver behind you was inebriated, then they may fail to stop in time when you slow down for a red light or a stop sign.
Lack of Coordination
Driving is a part of daily life for most of us, so we may begin to take the skills that driving involves for granted. However, driving requires a lot of coordination. Drivers have to coordinate the movements of their hands and feet all while paying attention to what is going on around them. Alcohol reduces this coordination and makes it more difficult to drive.
Reduction in Concentration
Driving requires a lot of coordination and concentration. Any amount of alcohol in the system will reduce concentration levels, which could lead to a driver drifting out of their lane.
Large quantities of alcohol can actually begin to impair sight. Heavy drinkers may notice that their eyesight becomes blurred or that they are unable to control their eye movements. This lack of vision may mean that a drunk driver fails to even see you or begin to slow down before they crash into your vehicle.
DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENT INJURIES
Drunk driving injuries can be very serious. In the most serious cases, drunk driving accidents can even lead to death. Drunk drivers have much slower reaction times and reduced concentration, which means that what could have been a relatively minor rear-ending at low speed can potentially turn into a collision where the drunk driver fails to slow down at all. As a result, some common injuries from drunk driving accidents include:
Upon impact at high speeds, broken and crushed bone injuries can occur. Some may require surgery to fix while others may lead to a permanent loss of limb or long-term disability.
When the body undergoes significant force during an accident, fractures, disc injuries, and spinal cord injuries can all occur.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
In a drunk driving accident, it isn’t necessary for the head to incur a direct blow to sustain serious brain injuries. In the case of a rear-ending, for example, the head may snap back and forth rapidly, leading to brain injuries. This sort of damage to the brain can lead to comas, long-term loss of motor function and cognition, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills.
WHAT TO DO AFTER AN ACCIDENT WITH A DRUNK DRIVER
Accidents with a drunk driver can often leave the life of the victim in pieces. Every story is unique, which means that there is no way to give broadly applicable advice that will fix your situation, but the following are a few steps that every drunk driving accident victim should complete as soon as possible.
1. Seek Medical Attention
After your accident, you should seek the attention of a qualified medical professional, even if you do not think that you sustained any injuries or if you think that your injuries are too minor to require attention. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, certain injuries may not present symptoms immediately after the accident. Going to a doctor might help catch these kinds of injuries and prevent them from getting any worse. Second, seeking compensation requires you to prove that the accident caused your injuries. The sooner you see a doctor, the stronger this connection will appear.
2. Document the Accident
After you have taken care of yourself, it is important to begin documenting your accident as thoroughly as possible. It is impossible to tell what may become important throughout your claim, so gathering more than is needed is always better than gathering less than is needed. Some documents that may be helpful include the contact information for the other driver and any witnesses, any photos or video footage of the accident or injuries, medical records, bills, and paystubs from lost wages that you may have incurred while unable to work.
3. Contact an Experienced Albuquerque Drunk Driving Lawyer
The aftermath of a serious drunk driving accident can be a very isolating experience. It can often seem like all of the other parties involved are out to pay you as little money as possible, and this may be the reality. Hiring an experienced lawyer gives you someone to take care of all of the legal details of your claim while you focus on your recovery.
Learn More: Why Hiring a Lawyer Will Help Your Case
FILING A DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENT CLAIM
Step one of filing a claim for your injuries will almost always be to hire an experienced Albuquerque drunk driving accident lawyer. An experienced lawyer may be able to draw on their training and experience to argue persuasively for your compensation. This may relieve you of the stress of having to worry about the legal system. This process will largely be comprised of three main steps.
After you have hired an attorney, they may be able to begin the process of gathering all of the information and evidence that they might need to be able to handle your claim. This may include conducting interviews and depositions of the other parties, analyzing the driving record of the drunk driver, and contacting whatever expert witnesses may be able to strengthen your claim.
Negotiation and Settlement
After your attorney is prepared with all of the details of your specific case, they might be able to begin the process of negotiating a settlement with the parties involved. Most claims settle before going to trial. Your attorney may be able to draw on their negotiation experience to understand what previous cases have settled for and argue on your behalf for a fair settlement.
If you can’t reach a settlement agreement – like if an insurance company is stubborn to pay – going to trial may be your only option. In this case, your attorney might be able to handle the extensive trial preparation and ensure that your side is fairly and adequately told.
How Long Will It Take My Case to Settle?
Every case is different, which means that there is no real way to give an accurate answer as to how long your case might take to settle without knowing the details of your specific claim. However, it is important to remember that navigating different schedules and a lot of claims in Albuquerque means that will likely take longer than you may expect for you to receive compensation.
How Much Is My Case Worth?
Your damages generally may be comprised of economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are costs like medical bills and lost wages, while non-economic damages cover the pain and suffering that you experience as a result of your injuries.
Learn More: How to Calculate the Value of Case
CONTACT THE ZINDA LAW GROUP ALBUQUERQUE DRUNK DRIVING ATTORNEYS TODAY
You do not need to fight for compensation for your injuries alone. We believe injury victims should not need to worry about their ability to pay for representation, which is why we use a no-win, no-fee policy—you don’t pay us anything unless we win your case for you.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.