Colorado Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers

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Drunk driving accidents are the most common, and the most preventable, types of motor vehicle accidents that occur in the United States. Being hit by a drunk driver while you’re out walking, riding your bike, or driving your car or motorcycle is a terrifying experience. The injuries from such accidents can be severe, and may even lead to wrongful death. Our Colorado drunk driving accident lawyers are here to help.

The experienced personal injury lawyers at Zinda Law Group understand the difficult time you must be going through. You may wish to pursue a claim against the drunk driver, and we are here to help. Before filing a claim, you should meet with a personal injury attorney to discuss your case and decide how best to proceed with your claim.

If you have suffered injury in a drunk driving accident anywhere in CO, call Zinda Law Group Colorado drunk driving lawyers (800) 863-5312. Schedule your 100% free consultation today with one of our personal injury lawyers.

Drunk driving accident statistics

Data collected by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that every minute, 28 people in the United States die because someone chose to drink and drive. More than 10,000 Americans died in drunk driving accidents in 2019, and more than one million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence that same year. One third of all deaths caused by vehicle crashes are due to drunk driving.

In 2019 the highest percentage of drunk drivers with Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08% or higher were aged 21 to 24, totaling 27% of all drunk drivers. The next largest group were aged 25 to 34, accounting for 25% of all drunk drivers. The NHTSA’s data shows men are most likely to be involved in this type of crash, with 4 male drunk drivers for every female drunk driver.

In 2019, 450 fatalities in Colorado were in accidents involving intoxicated drivers. Of these, 139 occurred in accidents where a driver had a BAC of .01% or above, 120 occurred in accidents where a driver had a BAC of .08% or above, and 87 occurred in accidents where a driver had a BAC of .15% or above.

HOW DRINKING IMPAIRS DRIVING ACCORDING TO COLORADO DWI LAWYERS

Alcohol reduces brain function, which impairs thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination, all of which are essential to safely drive a car. The degree of impairment you experience increases directly with the amount of alcohol present in your body.

A person’s alcohol level is measured by the weight of the alcohol in a certain volume of blood. This is called Blood Alcohol Concentration or Content, or BAC. At a BAC of .08 grams of alcohol per deciliter (g/dL) of blood, crash risk increases exponentially. Because of this risk, it is illegal in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to drive with a BAC of .08% or higher, except in Utah where the BAC limit is lower, at .05%.

Accidents are likely to happen even if a driver’s BAC is below .08%. In 2019, there were 1,775 people killed in alcohol-related crashes where a driver had a BAC of .01% to .07%. BAC is measured with a breathalyzer, a device that measures the amount of alcohol in a driver’s breath, or by a blood test. When someone is pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, or is involved in a car accident where it is suspected they may be intoxicated, a police officer will perform a breathalyzer test at the scene.

The following are the typical effects of certain BAC levels and how these levels may impact driving ability.

At .02% BAC

At this level, you may experience:

  • some loss of judgment
  • feeling more relaxed
  • feeling slightly warm
  • altered mood

You may also experience a decline in visual functions (rapid tracking of a moving target). Most people at this level have a declined ability to perform two tasks at the same time, so alcohol can impair your ability to keep an eye on other drivers and pedestrians on the road while also operating a vehicle.

At .05% BAC

At this level, you may experience exaggerated behavior, may have loss of small-muscle control (e.g., focusing your eyes), and impaired judgment. It is at this stage that alertness tends to diminish. Other effects at this level which directly impair your ability to drive a car safely include:

  • reduced coordination
  • reduced ability to track moving objects
  • difficulty steering
  • reduced response to emergency driving situations.

At .08% BAC

This level is the legal limit in almost all states. Here, the effects of alcohol universally include:

  • Your muscle coordination becomes poor (e.g., balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing).
  • It becomes harder for you to detect danger.
  • Your judgment, self-control, reasoning, and memory are impaired.

While driving, you also experience these conditions, all of which increase the risk of an accident occurring.

  • short-term memory loss
  • speed control
  • reduced information processing capability (e.g., signal detection, visual search)
  • impaired perception

At .10% BAC

At this level there is a             clear deterioration of your reaction time and control. Your speech is slurred, and you suffer from poor coordination and slowed thinking. Behind the wheel, you’ll experience a reduced ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately.

At .15% BAC

When BAC is at this level, the penalties in Colorado for DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) and DUI (Driving Under the Influence) accidents are increased.

  • You have far less muscle control than normal.
  • Vomiting may occur, unless this level was reached slowly over the course of the night or if you have a high alcohol tolerance.
  • You’ll experience a major loss of balance.

Behind the wheel, you will experience substantial impairments in

  • vehicle control,
  • attention to driving task, and
  • necessary visual and auditory information processing.

What to do after a DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENT

What you do immediately after a drunk driving accident is incredibly important not just for your claim, but for your continued overall health and recovery. It is important to follow the necessary steps to ensure that you not only get the maximum compensation you are entitled to, but also to recover from your injuries and get back to your life with the help of a Colorado injury lawyer.

Call 911

After any car accident, you should call the police immediately, and this an even more important step when you suspect the other driver may be drunk. The police will breathalyze any driver they suspect may be under the influence and will write up a report as they document the scene of the accident. You can request a copy of this report online in the days and weeks after your accident.

Take Care of Medical Needs

When you call 911, be sure to let the operator know if you or others are injured. The operator will send an ambulance to the scene to treat any severe or minor injuries. If you are not treated at the scene, seek medical attention immediately after the accident; after treatment, be sure to get copies of the documentation of your treatment.

Find an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

After calling the police and attending to your injuries, try to speak with an injury attorney as soon as possible. A drunk driving injury attorney will be able to help you hold the drunk driver responsible for your injuries.

Contact Colorado Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers As Soon As Possible

An experienced personal injury lawyer who has handled many similar cases will be able to provide sound advice for your case and walk you through your next steps. Finding the right personal injury lawyer in Colorado may seem difficult, but there are plenty of resources available to make the process easier; for example, you can ask friends or family for recommendations, or conduct a simple internet search using keyword phrases such as “Colorado injury lawyer,” “Colorado DWI lawyer,” or “injury lawyer near me.”

Another option when looking for reliable legal representation is to look for an attorney through the American Bar Association’s online directory. You can also find a lawyer through the Colorado Bar Association’s website where you can search for lawyers near you in your region.

Choose an injury attorney who has the experience and skill needed to handle your case, and a track record of success in pursing personal injury claims. Zinda Law Group’s personal injury lawyers have experience with personal injury claims involving drunk driving accidents and an outstanding record of success in handling matters like these for our clients.

DWAI and DUI accidents typically involve criminal penalties in addition to civil liabilities. You want to hire an experience personal injury lawyer who will be able to navigate these overlapping areas and better assist you in receiving the compensation you deserve.

Colorado Statute of Limitations

If you wish to pursue a personal injury claim against a drunk driver, contact an injury attorney right away, for there are time constraints. Statutes of limitations are involved in civil cases, determining how long you have to file your claim.

In Colorado, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case involving a drunk driving-related accident is three years; this means you have three years from the date of your accident to file a claim. If you attempt to file your claim beyond that three-year limit, your claim is barred. This means that it is not allowed and will be dismissed.

If you lose a loved one in a drunk driving accident, there is a two-year statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim that begins to run on the day of your loved one’s death. You will have two years from that point to file a claim, and if you fail to do so it is barred. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to help you determine when you will need to file, and if you are subject to any of the exceptions that exist to “toll” or delay the statute of limitations.

WHO CAN BE HELD LIABLE AND HOW?

Sometimes the person who hit you in a drunk driving accident is not the only person who can be held liable for your injuries. Below we introduce you to some laws affecting whom you may be able to sue for compensation for your damages and pain and suffering.

The Criminal Context: DWAI And DUI Laws

Colorado has two types of laws related to intoxicated driving. Whether a driver is charged under one law or the other depends on their blood-alcohol content (BAC).

Under the Driving Under the Influence (DUI) law, the BAC legal limit for a driver aged 21 and older is 0.08%, while the limit for a driver under 21 is 0.02%. Under the Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) law, the limit is 0.05% regardless of age.

There are different penalties that a driver will face depending on the type of offense they are charged with and their age. For a driver’s first DWAI offense, they could potentially face:

  • 12 points toward license suspension
  • a $200 to $1500 fine
  • up to one year in jail
  • up to 96 hours of community service

For a driver’s first DUI offense, they could face the following:

  • administrative license revocation for nine months
  • a $600 to $1,000 fine
  • up to 1 year in jail
  • up to 96 hours of community service
  • mandatory alcohol education

For a driver who is below 21, the potential punishment for their first DUI/DWAI offense is a license suspension for 3 months to a year and 4 points added to their driving record. For second offense and beyond, the penalties increase. Moreover, Colorado also has substantially increased punishments, even for first-time offenders, for drivers who have a 0.15% or higher BAC.

The Civil Context: Negligence

A drunk driver can be held responsible for your injuries in a civil court if the four elements of a negligence claim are met:

  • duty,
  • breach of that duty,
  • causation, and
  • damages

Your lawyer must prove that the driver owed you a duty—which is typically to act as a reasonably prudent person would under similar circumstances—and that the driver breached that duty by driving drunk. Next, a lawyer must show that, but-for the drunk driver, your injuries would not have occurred. Damages are proved by showing you suffered an injury, whether physical or financial (such as damage to your car or bicycle) from the accident.

If all of these elements are met, a drunk driver will be held liable for your injuries, and you may recover the monetary costs of the accident from them. Typically, the first two elements (duty and breach) can be proven by showing the driver violated a law which was meant to protect the class of persons to which you belong; this theory is called Negligence per se. A drunk driver is negligent per se if they violate the state’s DWAI and DUI laws.

Third-party Responsibility: Colorado’s Dram Shop Law

Some states have statutes, commonly called “Dram Shop” laws, which allow licensed establishments such as restaurants, bars, and liquor stores to be held liable for selling or serving alcohol to individuals who cause injuries or death because of their intoxication. Colorado is one such state. Its Dram Shop law statutorily limits the liability of licensed establishments to cases where the establishment sold or served alcohol to an obviously intoxicated individual or a person under the legal drinking age.

This means that under Colo. Rev. Stat. §12-47-801, an individual establishment cannot be held liable unless it can be found that they willingly or knowingly served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person, or a person under the age of 21. A civil claim brought against an establishment must be brought within one year of the sale of the alcohol to the intoxicated person. The statute also limits the amount of recovery for your claim at $150,000 maximum.

WHAT YOU CAN RECOVER

You may be able to recover the costs associated with your injury and recovery through a personal injury claim. The severity of the injury and your recovery time directly affect the amount of recovery for a personal injury action.

Your injury may leave you unable to work or perform daily tasks, and you might require ongoing medical care and extensive rehabilitative therapy. You may be able to recover the costs in the form of compensatory damages. An experienced personal injury lawyer can assist you in recovering the maximum compensation you are entitled to.

Recoverable damages include both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are the actual, monetary costs of your injury. Noneconomic damages cover the mental and emotional toll the injury has taken on your life and are recovered in the form of compensation for pain and suffering. The following are common economic and noneconomic damages you may be entitled to recover:

Medical Bills

You may be able to recover the cost of medical bills you have paid out of pocket since the accident. This includes doctor’s visits, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and medication. You may also be able to recover the costs of any future appointments, medication, or treatments necessary for your recovery.

Lost Wages

If you are out of work due to your injury, you may recover what you would have earned from the time of the accident until you can return to work, as a part of your economic damages.

Diminished Earning Capacity

In addition to lost wages, you may be able to recover loss of earning capacity. If your injuries from the accident prevent you from going back to your job or working at another job for similar compensation, you may be able to recover the difference between what you were earning before the accident and what you are earning now.

Wrongful Death

If you lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident in Colorado, you may be able to recover any costs for their medical care or funeral expenses through a wrongful death claim against the responsible party.

Mental Anguish

Your non-economic damages include pain and suffering that result from the accident. Any kind of car accident takes emotional and mental tolls on a person and their family, and a drunk driving accident can exacerbate this suffering. You may be able to recover for this mental anguish itself, and the cost of mental health treatment that may stem from the accident.

How Zinda LAW GROUP Colorado Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers Can HELP

Suffering from an injury or losing a loved one due to a drunk driving accident can be a source of immense emotional and financial strain on you and your family. It is important to get as much help and support as you can immediately following your or your loved one’s injury. Our Colorado injury lawyers at Zinda Law Group can assist you with recovering the costs associated with your or your loved one’s injury and recovery.

Our experienced personal injury lawyers will guide you through the often-complex legal system to help file your claim and ensure you receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to. We will take care of the legal work so you can focus on yourself and your family during this time of recovery. If we do not win your case, you will not pay any fees; this is our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.

If you or a loved one has suffered from an injury after a drunk driving accident, call Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312. We offer free, initial consultation, so scheduling your first meeting with one of our  professional Colorado personal injury lawyers is as easy as dialing your phone.

Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.