How Alcohol Plays a Role in Car Accident Cases
It’s no secret that alcohol impairs judgement and slows your reflexes. This is exactly why there are such strict laws against drinking and operating any type of vehicle, whether it’s a car, a motorcycle, or a boat. Despite all the efforts that have been made to cut down on drunk driving over the past few decades, alcohol related accidents are still a major problem in the United States. In 2013, 28.7 million people admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol, which is a number larger than the population of the state of Texas.
Some of the most common causes of car accidents are driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI). If you’re injured in an alcohol-related accident, it’s very important to talk to a traffic accident lawyer as soon as possible. Car accidents caused by alcohol are a bit different from ordinary car accidents, so suing a drunk driver can be more complicated. Not only could the drunk driver be facing criminal charges, but if you choose to sue the drunk driver, you may be able to potentially recover punitive damages for their reckless behavior or, in some cases, sue a bar or restaurant for over-serving the driver.
In many states, including Michigan, if an intoxicated individual causes an accident and injures another person, the injured person can sue the bar, restaurant, or other business that served the drunk driver. These are known as Dram Shop laws. Under Dram Shop laws, restaurants and other retail establishments that serve alcohol have a responsibility to not continue serving visibly intoxicated customers. If a bartender over-serves a customer, who then leaves and gets into a car accident, seriously injuring another person, the injured person could file a lawsuit against the bar or restaurant the drunk driver had been served at. Note that Dram Shop laws only apply to businesses. In the state of Michigan, if a drunk person gets into an accident after having too much to drink at a private party at a friend’s house, the party host could only be held liable for the injuries caused by a guest’s actions if they served alcohol to someone under the age of 21.
If you suspect you’ve been hit by a drunk driver, mention that fact to anyone you speak to, such as a 911 operator or police officers. Be sure to watch for the other driver doing things like using a breath spray, chewing gum, or mints, since that could be a sign that they are trying to cover up the smell of alcohol. Also keep an eye out for the driver trying to dispose of anything from the vehicle or trying to switch places with another passenger in the vehicle. There have been many cases where a drunk driver tries to change places with a sober (or less intoxicated) passenger so it looks like they weren’t the person who was driving.
After being injured in a drunk-driving accident, the drunk driver’s insurance company will very likely be in touch with you, trying to get you to accept a settlement. This is another reason why it is very important to call a car accident attorney about your case. Remember that insurance companies do not have your best interests at heart; they are primarily interested in trying to quickly pay off your case for the least amount of money possible. By contacting a lawyer, you’ll have someone on your side who will fight for you to get all the compensation you need and deserve.