Drunk Driving Accidents In Washington DC
According to the United States Department of Transportation, nearly 30 people throughout the nation die in drunk driving crashes daily. Not only does alcohol impair the ability of a driver to react to unexpected events on the road, but it can also cause erratic and unsafe driving. At Gelb & Gelb, P.C., we help people hurt by the negligent or reckless conduct of others, including drunk drivers. Throughout Washington, D.C., the dedicated team of professionals at our firm assists victims and their loved ones as they seek compensation for their losses after vehicle collisions and other accidents. Car crashes caused by drunk driving can lead to serious physical and emotional harm, and Attorney Gelb has decades of experience personally handling thousands of injury claims.
We pride ourselves on personal attention, as Attorney Gelb personally communicates with is clients as he investigates, negotiates, and if necessary, litigates on their behalf. We have obtained many verdicts and settlements in the millions of dollars, and are known as one of the leading injury firms in the region. If you need assistance from a Washington, D.C. car accident attorney in assessing whether you have a negligence or wrongful death claim following a crash, contact us to schedule a free consultation.
Legal Fault and Damages in a Drunk Driving Accident
For all legal claims following a drunk driving accident, the victim must demonstrate fault. Liability, or legal fault, for causing injuries or death in a drunk driving accident may extend beyond the drunk driver. In some circumstances, you may pursue a claim against a bar or restaurant owner who provided the customer alcohol. The laws vary between The District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia regarding whether a business can be sued for providing alcohol to someone already intoxicated. Further, if the drunk driver was employed at the time of the collision, their employer may be at fault.
Are Drunk Driving Cases Different From Other Car Accident Cases?
If the case is taken to court or litigated, the courts are always more likely to be generous with a plaintiff who is struck by a drunk driver. The fact that the defendant was drunk at the time of the accident may or may not be admissible. The defense attorney would likely stipulate the liability in the accident. That means that the trial would only be about the value of the claim. That would be the only dispute in the case with a drunk driver, typically. Otherwise, if it is litigated and the fact that the defendant driver was drunk when the accident occurred, that may increase the value of the claim.
Can The Injured Party Also Be Held Liable for Damages?
If the fact that the injured claimant was drunk is not a contributing factor to the accident, they may not be held liable for damages. Then they may still be able to pursue a claim against a negligent driver that caused the accident. It is best to speak to an experienced drunk driving car accident lawyer in DC to learn about the role of liability and negligence in a case.
In most personal injury claims following a car accident, the injured plaintiff demonstrates the at-fault driver’s negligence in order to recover compensation for accident-related costs such as injuries, property damage, and medical bills. Proving negligence requires setting forth evidence that the defendant’s conduct failed to meet the standard of care appropriate for the specific situation, and that these actions directly caused harm. In many cases that can mean proving that reckless conduct such as distracted or aggressive driving caused your accident and injuries. However, like many other states, following an accident caused by a drunk driver in Washington, D.C., the legal concept of negligence per se may apply, helping the plaintiff to secure damages.
What is Negligence Per Se?
Negligence per se applies when a defendant violates a statute or ordinance that establishes the standard of appropriate conduct, and harms a person or group the law is intended to protect. Drunk driving or driving while intoxicated is prohibited by statute in Washington, D.C. In fact, in an effort to reduce traffic accidents and protect others from harm caused by intoxicated drivers, Washington, D.C. law enumerates three drunk driving offenses, including Driving While Intoxicated, Driving Under the Influence, and Operating While Impaired. Drunk driving laws in all three states are intended to protect others on the road from dangers posed by drunk or intoxicated drivers. Following a drunk driving accident, it may be appropriate for the injured plaintiff to assert negligence per se in a civil action, which would proceed separately from any criminal charges the defendant driver may face.
If a driver that caused an accident was either arrested or charged with drunk driving, there would be a presumption that the defendant was negligent because they violated a law or ordinance. A conviction for drunk driving may be admissible as evidence in a personal injury claim. A successful assertion of negligence per se includes showing that the plaintiff was a member of the group that the law intended to protect, and was harmed in a manner that the law seeks to guard against. The jury or judge would not have to determine whether the at-fault driver acted reasonably. However, proximate cause will remain an element that must be proven, meaning that an intervening cause cannot have caused the crash and resulting injuries. An experienced auto collision lawyer can help you make a claim for compensation.
As the final step in a personal injury claim following a drunk driving vehicle collision, the victim plaintiff will set forth their costs associated with the accident. The type of compensation that may be available to victims of a drunk driving collision include economic and non-economic damages. In the majority of cases, the victim will present their costs associated with the accident, including hospital and medical bills, lost wages, and damage to their vehicle. Because many drunk driving victims suffer debilitating, life-altering harm, it is common to include non-economic damages as well. These refer to a decreased quality of life, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium. In addition to other damages, punitive damages may be available to drunk driving accident victims. These damages would be imposed as a punishment, and to deter conduct that the court deems reprehensible.
In the event of a tragic death following a drunk driving collision, loved ones and other legally specified individuals may pursue a wrongful death case on behalf of the deceased. Attorney Roger Gelb has settled over 10,000 wrongful death claims, and makes it a priority to help the families of fatal accident victims seek justice.
Meet with a Skilled Car Accident Lawyer in the Washington, D.C. Area
At Gelb & Gelb, P.C., we understand the dire impact a vehicle crash can have upon the victim and their family. Drunk drivers should be held accountable for careless and reckless conduct that causes injuries. At our firm, the emotional, physical, and financial needs of our clients drive our diligent legal representation. We proudly serve clients throughout Washington, D.C. To learn more about your potential legal claim, please contact us by phone at 202-331-7227 or complete our online form.