CALL (800) 863-5312 TO SPEAK WITH A DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENT LAWYER FOR FREE
Drunk driving has remained a constant issue in the United States. Despite all sorts of countermeasures in place, thousands still die each year because of drunk driving. Because drunk driving is so heinous, states have passed legislation to punish drunk drivers with criminal misdemeanors and felonies. However, a party injured by a drunk driver does not receive compensation from a drunk driver’s criminal conviction. Rather, a party seeking compensation from a drunk driver must file a civil lawsuit.
If you or your loved one has been involved in an accident with a drunk driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers.
DRUNK DRIVING STATISTICS IN FORT COLLINS
According to 2018 data from the City of Fort Collins, drunk driving crashes represent:
- 4% of all car crashes
- Over 10 % of severe crashes
- 18 % of incapacitating or fatal crashes
- 48% percent of all severe fixed object crashes
Drivers below the age of 35 are most likely to be involved in alcohol-related crashes.
COLORADO DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE (DUI) LAWS
In Colorado, if you are caught driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or greater, you will be charged with DUI. Even if you refuse to submit to a test to measure your blood alcohol content, if an officer reasonably suspects that are you intoxicated, you may still be charged with DUI.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM A DRUNK DRIVER
Tens of thousands of drivers are arrested for DUI in Colorado each year. Though you may not be able to control whether an individual drinks and drives, you may be able to protect yourself from drunk drivers by identifying if a fellow driver is drunk or not by asking the following questions:
- Is the driver quickly accelerating and decelerating?
- Is the driver weaving in and out of traffic?
- Does the driver break in an uneven pattern?
- Is the driver traveling noticeably under the speed limit?
If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, you should first try to avoid this driver by stopping at a safe spot or overtaking the driver’s vehicle. If you are able to safely stop, you should alert the police and let them know that a drunk driver may be on the loose.
WHOM MAY YOU SUE IN A DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENT LAWSUIT?
The Drunk Driver
As the perpetrator of the accident, the drunk driver is primarily responsible for the accident and is almost always liable.
Hosts who serve alcohol at a party may be responsible for a drunk driving accident if the host is found to have served alcohol to an underage defendant. However, this only applies if the defendant was under 21 years of age. If the defendant is 21 or older, then a social host could have served a clearly intoxicated defendant alcohol and not be liable for the resulting accident.
Bar or Restaurant Owner or Staff
Colorado is one of the many states that have adopted what are known as dram shop laws. These laws allow a plaintiff who was injured in a drunk driving accident to sue an establishment that serves alcohol if that establishment served the visibly intoxicated defendant alcohol prior to the accident. The law creates a duty for these establishments and their employees to not serve alcohol to patrons who appear extremely intoxicated.
STEPS TO TAKE IF YOU ARE INJURED IN A DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENT IN FORT COLLINS
1. Seek Medical Attention
Even if you may feel fine after getting involved in an accident with a drunk driver, you should always seek medical attention. Some physical injuries do not become apparent until sometime after the accident. Therefore, you will want to schedule an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may be unable to seek full compensation for the injury.
2. Report the Accident
Be sure to report the accident to the police immediately after the accident. The police will write up an accident report. This report will be indispensable if you plan on filing a claim.
3. Document the Accident
When you file a personal injury claim, you must show you suffered an injury. To show this you must substantiate your claim with evidence. Evidence can be photographs, medical bills, witness statements, and the like. Therefore, archive all of the expenses that have resulted from the accident. These include medical expenses, expenses for your damaged motorcycle, and towing expenses.
4. Contact an Attorney
An attorney can be a valuable asset when you are filing you are filing a drunk driving accident claim–whether your claim goes to trial or gets settled. A Fort Collins drunk driving lawyer may help you investigate the accident and find all the parties responsible for the drunk driving accident.
Read More: Fort Collins Truck Accident Lawyers
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF THE DRUNK DRIVER IS UNDERINSURED OR UNINSURED?
Though the drunk driver’s insurance company is responsible for compensating the victim of the accident, it is often the case that the drunk driver’s insurance policy will not fully compensate the victim for his or her injuries. In some cases, the drunk driver may not have an insurance policy at all. In such cases, you should file a claim with your own insurance company as your insurance policy will likely compensate you for some of your injuries. Furthermore, if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit and are successful, you may be able to recover compensation from the drunk driver by taking possession of his or her personal assets.
COMMON DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENT QUESTIONS
What Types of Compensation Are There? (Economic Vs. Non-Economic)
A successful plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit will be awarded compensation, or “damages.” Damages are divided into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are designed to compensate the plaintiff for measurable, objective losses due to the accident and resulting injury. The following list provides some examples of what economic damages are meant to compensate:
- Lost earnings
- Past and future medical expenses
- Costs associated with property damage
Economic damages awarded in personal injury cases mainly compensate for medical expenses like hospital bills, therapy costs, ambulance bills, and other associated medical costs collectively add up to a significant sum. To calculate the amount of economic damages to be awarded, the court will often look at physical receipts.
Non-economic damages, unlike economic damages, cannot be measured objectively. The following list provides some examples of what non-economic damages are meant to compensate:
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship
How Does Zinda Law Group Prove the Liability of the Drunk Driver?
A lawsuit against a drunk driver generally requires the plaintiff to prove that the drunk driver’s negligence was the cause of the plaintiff’s injury. To prove negligence, the plaintiff must prove that:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff
- The defendant breached that duty of care
- The defendant’s breach was the cause of the injury
- The plaintiff was injured
However, Colorado also has a negligence per se statute regarding intoxicated drivers. This simply means that if a person drives while intoxicated, he or she will automatically be considered to have been negligent in causing the accident. The plaintiff will not need to go through the traditional process of proving each of the four bullet points listed above.
You may also be entitled to punitive or exemplary damages. This is compensation that may be provided to you in order to punish the party for its conduct. It is generally awarded when the at-fault party’s behavior was grossly negligent. Because drunk driving is considered grossly negligent behavior, you may be entitled to punitive damages in addition to economic and non-economic damages.
Can I File a Civil Lawsuit If There Is an Ongoing Criminal Case?
Yes, a civil lawsuit may be filed even if the drunk driver is charged with a criminal misdemeanor or felony. If the defendant is criminally convicted, the conviction may help your civil lawsuit. However, even if the defendant is not criminally convicted, it does not mean that your civil lawsuit will also fail. Remember that a prosecutor in a criminal case has a higher burden of proof than a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit.
Can I File a Civil Case If There Wasn’t a Criminal Case?
Yes, you may file a civil lawsuit against a drunk driver whether or not the state prosecutor files charges against the driver.
How Long Can It Take to Settle a Drunk Driving Injury Claim?
The time it takes for a case to be settled depends on numerous factors, and thus it is difficult to put out a rough estimate. For instance, if the opposing party’s insurance company tries to use a delaying tactic to avoid giving you compensation, your settlement will take longer.
Is There a Statute of Limitations for Drunk Driving Claims in Colorado?
In Colorado, you must bring a civil lawsuit against a drunk driver within three years of the accident. However, if you are filing a wrongful death action on behalf of a deceased, you have two years from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit.
CONTACT A FORT COLLINS DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENT LAWYER
The experienced Fort Collins attorneys at Zinda Law Group may be able to help you with a claim. After an accident, you shouldn’t have to worry about affording legal representation, which is why we work on a contingency fee basis. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.