DISCUSS YOUR ACCIDENT WITH OUR ARIZONA DRUNK DRIVING LAWYERS AT (800) 863-5312
In theory, everyone knows not to drink and drive. You have probably learned to assign designated drivers, to eat before drinking, or to take a taxi or rideshare home. Yet, for all the public service announcements and warnings about driving while under the influence of alcohol, numerous victims are affected by drunk driving in Arizona every year. Some of their families count on Arizona drunk driving lawyers to help them recover. A drunk driving lawyer can help you get your life back on track.
Kinds of crashes caused by drunk driving
Drunk drivers can be unpredictable because of the impact of alcohol. The driver could have a slow reaction time to a red light and fail to stop. Another driver could overcorrect when he or she is slipping out of his or her lane because of the poor muscle coordination caused by intoxication.
If either the drunk driver or her victim was speeding, accident injuries will be exacerbated. If you understand the common kinds of accidents that occur when alcohol is involved, then you can anticipate how to respond if you come across someone you think might be driving while intoxicated. Furthermore, if you were involved in any of the following kinds of accidents with a drunk driver, contact an injury attorney to see whether you could recover compensation for your injuries.
Drunk drivers tend to sway in and out of their lanes and typically cannot maintain control over their vehicles. They cross over the double yellow line in the center of the road or go the wrong direction on a one-way road, exit ramp, or highway or interstate.
If a car is coming toward you in your lane on a two-lane highway, do not pass the car by entering the left lane. The other driver might notice that he or she is going the wrong way on that road and swerve to the right to get back in the correct lane while you are still in it. Stick to the right side of the road, slow down, honk your horn, and flash your lights to alert the oncoming driver that he or she is in the wrong lane.
Intoxicated drivers also have difficulty keeping their speed under control and paying attention to the road and traffic conditions. These inattentive drivers risk crashing into vehicles that suddenly slow down or stop in front of them. Also, drunk drivers who have trouble controlling their vehicles’ speeds might follow too closely and speed up at inappropriate times, consequently rear-ending vehicles that are moving at normal, consistent speeds.
Accidents with Motorcycles
Motorcyclists enjoy the freedom of being on a vehicle rather than inside one, but they also miss out on the safety features present in vehicles, such as seatbelts, airbags, and a physical barrier between the motorist and the road and other vehicles. Motorcyclists are therefore more vulnerable in car crashes and are more at risk of death if they are in accidents with drunk drivers.
What are the chances of being in a drunk driving accident?
One third of all car crash deaths occur because someone chose to drink and drive. About 28 people are killed by drunk drivers every day in the United States, which averages to around one person every 52 minutes. More than one million drivers were arrested in 2019 for driving under the influence.
These statistics show that the chances of being involved in such an accident are unfortunately not slim. You should be prepared for such an incident in case you encounter a drunk driver on the road and are unable to avoid an accident. Perhaps you have already been in a crash and are trying to learn what your next steps should be after an accident.
What to do after a drunk driving accident
Everyone responds differently to traumatic experiences. After an accident with a drunk driver, you might experience an adrenaline rush or panic, or you might remain calm in the moment. Whatever your response at the time of the accident, you should take some critical actions and gather information to preserve the strength of your claim. One step that can ease the victim’s burden is hiring a personal injury lawyer.
The lawyer can evaluate your case and determine whether you were at fault for the incident and whether you could potentially receive compensation for your injuries. An attorney can use the information that you provide and investigate your case to find answers to important legal questions that you might not think to ask but are necessary for your claim. Here’s what to do immediately after a drunk driving accident:
1. Treat Your Injuries
It is most important to look after your physical health first, and your physical injuries could be serious and costly. Even if you think you are unscathed at first glance after the accident, you should still make an appointment with your doctor to confirm that you have not received injuries that will rear up later, such as a spinal injury or head injury. Keep track of your symptoms after the accident and note any unusual dizziness or mood changes, as well as new aches and pain, so that you can update your doctor and get treated.
Your injuries might be so serious that you have to call an ambulance or have someone else call an ambulance at the scene of the accident. If this is the case, do not try to gather information at the accident scene.
As you begin receiving medical treatment for your injuries, document all of the care providers you have used and every visit you have made. Include details about what the visits are for, the type of treatment you are receiving, and how much everything costs. Your attorney can request this information from your care providers later, but it is much more efficient if you have this information readily available for them, especially if you have several doctors and forms of treatment.
2. Gather Evidence at the Accident Scene
If your physical injuries are relatively minor after the accident and you are comfortable exiting your vehicle and moving around, start gathering all of the information available to you at the scene of the accident. Get the names, phone numbers, addresses, and insurance information of other drivers involved, and ask for the contact information from any witnesses to the crash. If you have a device that can take pictures, then get pictures of the accident scene and damage to the vehicles.
You or someone else should call the police so that the officer can write up a crash report. In a few days, the report will become public record, and it will include vital information about the accident, including information relating to who was at fault. The drunk driver might protest to police involvement, but it is crucial that an officer come to provide evidence that the other driver was drunk.
3. Work with a Drunk Driving Lawyer to Investigate Further
Once you have left the scene of the accident, it is time to begin the investigative work for all of the information necessary to determine—and prove—who was at fault for the accident. You will likely proceed legally under a claim in negligence, which requires you to prove all of the following:
1. The drunk driver owed you a duty of care.
2. The drunk driver breached his or her duty of care that he or she owed you.
3. You received an injury for which you can receive compensation.
4. The drunk driver caused your injury.
Reach out to witnesses who saw the accident and hear their accounts; see if they align with your theory of negligence. This information will help you decide whether your claim is strong enough to pursue.
You and your accident lawyer can use the crash report to show how the drunk driver breached his or her duty of care. The records and receipts you have kept will help prove the fourth element, the extent of your injury, and the amount you should be compensated. An attorney can also help at this investigative stage and give you confidence about whether you are likely to be successful in your attempt to receive compensation.
How Arizona attorneys help victims of drunk driving
Before you even file your lawsuit, you have to know whom to sue. An attorney who wants to help you get the most compensation for your injuries possible will know to investigate whether the drunk driver was behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle or was overserved at a restaurant or bar. That information will help answer both whom to sue and how much your claim is worth.
Next, to file your suit, you must know when, where, and how to file. Court rules tend to be extremely specific, and one wrong step could kill your case. First, you must ensure that you comply with the two-year statute of limitations. In Arizona, plaintiffs of personal injury claims have two years from the date of the accident to file suit.
Next, you must file with the correct court. A lawyer can instruct you of your options and tell you which courts have jurisdiction to hear your case. Finally, you must state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
In the last section, we mentioned that victims of accidents involving drunk drivers will likely proceed under a claim of negligence, which is an appropriate legal claim. However, even within that claim, you must show that it is possible for you to be compensated for the type of injury you received. Most physical injuries will suffice to meet that requirement, but a purely emotional injury will probably not.
After you file your claim, expect a response from the opposing party or parties. At this stage, the attorney can begin settlement negotiations with the other parties and their insurance companies.
Settlement is preferable to a trial because the parties can predict what will happen and make decisions about what they think is an appropriate amount. At trial, a jury can be unpredictable and react to evidence in ways the parties did not anticipate; but an experienced attorney can take your case to trial if the defendant will not meet an appropriate settlement offer.
The amount of compensation to which you are entitled depends on the kind of injuries you sustained. This is where it will be important for you to provide evidence of your injuries through your medical bills and other information you gleaned during the discovery phase of litigation.
Compensation in personal injury cases usually comes in the form of economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are to reimburse you for your medical expenses and missed wages from time off of work, along with any other expenses you had to pay as a result of the drunk driver’s negligence.
Noneconomic damages compensate you for the pain and suffering you experienced from the accident. On rare occasions you may also receive punitive damages. If the case goes to trial, the court might decide to punish the drunk driver and discourage him or her from committing the act again by making him or her pay you punitive damages in addition to economic damages and noneconomic damages.
Extra protection: Arizona’s Drunk driving laws
In Arizona, you can receive a DUI charge for driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08%. Commercial vehicle drivers can receive the same charge for a BAC of 0.04%, and individuals under 21 can receive that charge even if their BAC is 0.00%.
After someone receives a DUI in Arizona, he or she must install an ignition interlock on their vehicle. Once installed, this device requires that the driver give a breath sample with a legal BAC level before he or she can drive.
Hear from a compassionate zinda law group injury attorney
Hopefully after reading this article, you have gained some insight into the law surrounding personal injury, namely drunk driving accidents. Thankfully Zinda Law Group hires Arizona DWI lawyers who know the law well and are passionate about helping victims of such accidents get compensation for their injuries.
Your recovery should come first if you were in an accident with a drunk driver. Having an experienced personal injury lawyer at your side takes the burden of litigation off of you and allows you to return to your life as normally as possible.
You might still want to know, “How can I find an injury lawyer near me?” It’s as easy as contacting a Zinda Law Group Arizona injury lawyer at (800) 863-5312 and asking to schedule your free consultation.
That’s right—it does not cost you anything to talk to a lawyer about your case and see what your next steps should be. Not only is the consultation free, but we also provide our clients with a No Win, No Fee Guarantee so that they do not owe us anything unless we win their case for them.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How to sue a Drunk Driver who faces Criminal Charges in Arizona?
- Can I sue a Bar if you were hit by a Drunk Driver?
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