Indianapolis Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys
Automobile accidents involving drunk drivers are especially tragic. Such accidents could have been prevented if only people did not get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or using other inhibitory drugs. However, drunk driving crashes are not uncommon, both in Indiana and across the nation. Victims of such accidents, and their families, are entitled to seeking maximum compensation after an accident occurs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in three traffic fatalities in the United States are caused by drunk driving. In 2018, 83 Indiana drivers died in automobile crashes involving drunk drivers, and another 1,532 people were injured. Drunk driving deaths accounted for 5% of all vehicular fatalities in 2018.
Although accidents caused by alcohol-impaired driving are preventable, the accidents and damage that they cause are irreversible. You should be aware of the legal consequences of drunk driving and of how victims of drunk driving accidents can and should go about seeking compensation.
While no one can undo the tragic results of drunk driving, having the right legal team and Indiana drunk driving attorney on your side will help you handle negotiations and fight for fair compensation.
Why Do Drunk Driving Accidents Occur?
Drunk driving/alcohol-impaired driving is so dangerous because alcohol dampens the senses and the brain’s and body’s ability to react, focus, and process. Driving safely means paying attention and being able to respond to stimuli and conditions quickly. Alcohol dampens the body’s ability to carry out such processes and hinders reflexes and judgment, meaning that drinking and driving do not mix.
Such inhibitory effects mean that drunk drivers often don’t realize that they are about to collide with another car or object until it’s too late. Slowed reflexes hinder reaction times, and dulled focus means that drivers can be more likely to swerve their vehicles or let them drift out of their lanes.
Unsafe Driving Linked to Alcohol
There are several common unsafe driving practices that occur when drunk drivers get behind the wheel. They include:
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Failing to notice red lights, stop signs, and other indicators
- Driving too fast
- Driving on the wrong side of the road or in another lane
- Drifting into another lane
Scenarios Linked to Drunk Driving
Drunk driving and DUI accidents can occur anywhere at any time. But there are several scenarios that can be more likely to lead to driving under the influence of alcohol. For example, drivers leaving bars or restaurants, especially at night, are more likely to be intoxicated. Similarly, drivers departing from sporting events, concerts, or other venues that serve alcohol might be under the influence if alcohol was consumed. Drivers attending social gatherings and parties where alcohol was served could also be intoxicated upon leaving.
If possible, avoid driving at times when bars are closing, which is typically later at night. Be watchful for signs that a nearby automobile is being operated by a drunk driver. Impaired drivers may have less control over their vehicles, reflected by erratic or careless driving.
Times When Drunk Driving Can Be More Prevalent
Drivers may be more likely to drive under the influence of alcohol during certain days and holidays that are associated with parties, drinking, and vacation times. Holidays and events such as New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day, Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo, Labor Day, the night before Thanksgiving, and others often involve celebrating with alcohol.
Still, weekend nights and later evenings during any time throughout the year are generally more likely times for intoxicated drivers to be on the road. Following sporting events such as the Super Bowl, NBA Tournament games, and Indianapolis 500 races, roads could have a greater number of intoxicated drivers.
Most alcohol-related crashes occur during weekends. According to data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 31% of fatal crashes involving drivers under the influence of alcohol occur on weekends. Crashes are most likely to occur between 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.
Signs You Were Injured by a Drunk Driver
Drivers’ behavior and atypical operation of their automobiles could indicate that they are intoxicated. If you noticed any abnormal driving patterns before an accident occurred, it’s important to remember and convey these details.
Encountering and Recognizing Drunk Driving
There are many additional unsafe driving practices and behaviors that could indicate a driver is drunk. Drunk drivers often fail to maintain lane position, for example, and move between lanes haphazardly.
Intoxicated drivers can also have difficulty gauging speed and distance while driving, as reflected by stopping too quickly and stopping at odd angles or too far, or near, to a limit line. Drivers who are drunk might also accelerate or decelerate unexpectedly or at odd times.
Drunk drivers may have trouble staying vigilant and be unable to notice and respond to common safety indicators like changes in traffic signals. Other common signs that indicate a driver is drunk include:
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Making a wide radius when turning
- Erratic signaling
- Driving with no headlights
- Hugging the center of the road or shoulder
If You’ve Spotted a Drunk Driver
If you believe an automobile is being operated by a drunk driver, keep a safe distance away and pull over when you are able to. While there are numbers to call to report drunk drivers, contact law enforcement right away if you’re unsure of whom to call. You will likely be asked to provide a description of the vehicle, your location, and any other details that you can share. Remember, reporting drunk drivers saves lives.
Crashes caused by drunk drivers can be especially damaging and catastrophic. Impaired drivers with dulled senses may not be aware of their speed and can lack the reflexes needed to respond or slow down, leading to a devastating crash.
Signs of Intoxication Following an Accident
While it can be obvious that a driver of a crashed automobile was drunk, other times, it can be difficult to tell.
Following an accident, certain signs could reveal a driver’s intoxication. A strong odor of alcohol, discarded beer, wine, or liquor containers, and watery or red eyes could indicate intoxication. Drivers who have trouble balancing or standing up straight and speak with slurred speech could also be intoxicated. Drunk individuals might also exhibit signs of having difficulty concentrating or staying awake.
What to Do if You Are Injured in a Drunk Driving Accident
At the Accident Scene
If you’re the victim of a crash caused by a driver under the influence of alcohol, there are certain steps you should take immediately to mitigate further damage and injury and to help secure your case. Your safety and others’ safety comes first. Move yourself and your vehicle to the side of the road if possible and do what’s possible to address any injuries until emergency services arrive.
It’s important to remember that an impaired driver may not be in a state to provide information as readily as someone who is sober. Additionally, an impaired driver may try to flee the scene to avoid a DUI charge.
If you are in a condition to take photos of the driver’s vehicle and license plate, this can safeguard information before exchanging names, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information with the other driver.
Even if your injuries appear minor, stay at the scene and call for or request immediate medical assistance. Provide aid if possible to others who may have been hit by a car or affected by an accident.
Call the police to make an accident report. Reporting an accident also creates an official record of the accident, which can be used for filing a claim for compensation. A police report provides an unbiased, third-party account of the accident, which is key during settlement negotiations.
If you are able to, take photos of any vehicle damage, road conditions, injuries, and surroundings. If there were eyewitnesses, obtain their contact information.
Legal Help for Your Claim
When filing an injury claim after a car accident in Indianapolis, you cannot wait longer than two years from the date of the crash to file your claim, as the statute of limitations is two years. While personal injury claims related to drunk driving accidents in Indiana can often be negotiated and settled outside of court, it’s always wise to include an Indiana attorney with expertise in drunk driving cases.
Insurance companies are prone to offering settlements after accidents that do not adequately compensate car accident victims. In terms of costs for injuries, future medical expenses, loss of future income, pain and suffering, and other detrimental results, it is important that you receive the full amount of compensation to which you are entitled.
Evidence and Drunk Driving Cases
An experienced Indiana attorney can play a critical role in pursuing your case as it develops. In addition to protecting your legal rights and working to receive the highest compensation available for your case, your attorney will investigate your claim and look into evidence. For example, breathalyzer, blood and urine test results of the driver, police or surveillance video of the accident, photos of the accident scene and vehicles involved, witness statements, police reports, criminal court records, and medical records all act as evidence material to be studied by your attorney and legal team.
It is important to gather all evidence to prove that the other driver was at fault for the accident due to intoxication. However, this can be very difficult to show in court if the driver declined a breathalyzer test after the crash. Similarly, if blood is taken to analyze for alcohol content, the driver’s blood-alcohol level might have fallen below the legal driving limit, meaning other evidence could be required to support your case.
Therefore an experienced Indiana attorney who handles drunk driving cases can thoroughly look into evidence, including interviewing witnesses, checking up on medical evidence, and looking into the driver’s history. Accident reports prepared by police officers, videos and photographs from the scene, physical evidence from vehicles and from the scene, and sobriety test results are all additional crucial pieces of evidence.
Who Can Be Held Responsible in a Drunk Driving Accident?
Legal Consequences for Driving While Intoxicated
In Indiana, if at any point a driver fails to drive in a safe and responsible manner, it could be considered negligence. Because alcohol and other drugs impair a driver’s ability to control their vehicle, make judgments, and react to road conditions, driving while under the influence of alcohol is absolutely not safe or responsible.
Drivers who get into crashes caused by intoxication due to alcohol consumption can be punished by law. Criminal courts are responsible for punishing negligent drivers who drive while intoxicated and cause accidents. Such drivers can face fines, have their licenses revoked, or be sentenced to jail time.
However, criminal cases and punishment do not seek to recover damages for other drivers and people injured in a crash caused by a drunk driver. Car crash victims should seek a separate personal injury claim in order to obtain compensation after an accident caused by drunk driving. While insurance companies may offer a settlement, it’s important that a qualified attorney in Indiana review your case first to make sure that your compensation is fair, complete, and as large as possible.
Proving Fault and Liability
If a driver is arrested for driving while intoxicated, the arrest provides just one piece of evidence for proving fault and liability for an accident caused by intoxication. As with other types of automobile accidents that occur in Indiana, you must prove that the other driver caused the crash before you can recover compensation for your damages.
The fact that a driver was impaired at the time of the collision actually might not be sufficient to prove that the driver caused the crash. You and your attorney will need to show evidence proving that the driver’s actions or behaviors caused the collision.
For example, if the driver crossed into your lane of traffic, failed to yield the right of way, or ran a stop sign, any of these actions could have caused the collision. Once you prove that the other driver caused the accident, the driver can be held liable for your damages.
The Value of Your Claim
When an accident is caused by an intoxicated driver, it can be difficult to calculate the costs associated with pain and suffering, income loss, medical bills, and other areas. While an insurance company may accept liability if a driver that it insured caused the accident, the insurance company will likely try to settle your case for less than it is worth.
Having an Indiana lawyer on your side who can take the time and effort to go over your case details will be necessary to obtain your maximum compensation. An attorney and legal team can gather and review all of the evidence needed to calculate the value of your claim.
Monetary compensation cannot undo the damage and suffering that result after being injured by an intoxicated driver. However, compensation after an accident claim can cover your medical bills, living expenses, and lost wages as you work on recovery and focus on restoring your health and well-being.
Indiana Drunk Driving FAQ
What is the blood alcohol concentration reading needed to be classified as drunk?
Drivers who have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher can be classified as drunk in Indiana and can be punished under the law.
How are victims of crashes caused by drunk drivers compensated?
Criminal convictions for drunk driving do not pay for medical bills or compensate victims. Victims of accidents caused by intoxicated drivers must file a claim for compensation or file a civil suit to be compensated.
What are the legal penalties for drunk driving?
While drunk drivers in Indiana face many penalties, the basic legal penalties include misdemeanor or felony charges, fines between $300 and $10,000, suspension of driver’s license for 90 days or up to two years, and a jail or prison sentence ranging from 10 days to 11 years or longer.
Does a driver have to be arrested for DUI in order to support a civil case?
Official evidence of a driver’s intoxication level, such as a failed sobriety test, and arrest for DUI can be helpful in proving damages in a civil case. But even if a driver wasn’t charged with DUI, facts that show that a driver had been drinking can still be used in your case.
What can compensation from a drunk driving case cover?
Compensation can be used to cover expenses, including medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and property damage.
What types of injuries can result from drunk driving accidents?
Significant and severe injuries can result from crashes caused by intoxicated drivers. Traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, and back and neck injuries can occur. Fractures, internal bleeding, and burns and scars can also occur. Sadly, some drunk driving accidents result in fatalities for drivers and passengers.
What are common medical procedures for accident victims?
Following a crash involving a drunk driver, accident victims undergo procedures and care such as imaging tests (x-rays, MRIs, CT scans), physical therapy, surgery, occupational therapy, lengthy hospital stays, and counseling services. The costs for procedures and medical care can be very high.
How can an Indiana attorney help with my case?
If you’re the victim of an automobile accident caused by a drunk driver or driver suspected of being intoxicated, it’s important to contact an experienced Indiana attorney early on. An attorney can help you to navigate insurance claims and ensure that you receive the maximum compensation by carefully reviewing the details of your case and negotiating for you.
What strategies are in place to reduce drunk driving?
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws against drunk driving. In Indiana, sobriety checkpoints are allowed. Ignition interlocks have also been used to prevent convicted drunk drivers from driving drunk. Mass media campaigns and school-based programs about drunk driving have been deployed.
Drunk Driving and Dram Shop Laws
The individual driver is typically held accountable in most drunk driving cases. However, in some situations, another party could be held responsible under Indiana’s Dram Shop Law, which is listed in Indiana’s Code as: IC-7.1-5-10-15.5. This law can hold businesses or people who furnish alcohol to others as being responsible after a drunk driving accident.
Indiana law lists two specific circumstances in which a party other than the individual driver can be held responsible for a crash caused by an intoxicated driver. According to the code, to qualify: the person furnishing the alcoholic beverage had actual knowledge that the person to whom the alcoholic beverage was furnished was visibly intoxicated at the time the alcoholic beverage was furnished and the intoxication of the person to whom the alcoholic beverage was furnished was a proximate cause of the death, injury, or damage alleged in the complaint.
Furnishing alcohol is not limited to bars, restaurants, and other places that sell alcohol. People hosting parties and social events can also be subject to dram shop laws.
If a business or person continues to serve an obviously intoxicated person, they open themselves up to the risks and potential damages and liability caused by an impending accident.
The Crossen Law Firm Can Help
If you are injured in a drunk driving accident, let an experienced legal team join your side from the start. An attorney who can evaluate how your life and quality of life have been affected following a drunk driving accident will help you to decide on and negotiate a settlement that is adequate and comprehensive.
The Crossen law firm’s legal team will help you to navigate the difficult recovery process following any automobile accident. We’ll fight for your compensation and fully investigate the situation involving your case after you contact us.