Drunk Driving Accidents

Despite a host of affordable ride-sharing companies coming to market, as well as media and local government campaigns against drunk driving, it is still a significant cause of car accidents across the Charlotte region. North Carolina, along with many other states, has strict drunk driving laws. Despite public awareness campaigns and more stringent drunk driving laws, many people continue to suffer injuries or death from alcohol-related car accidents. When drunk drivers cause car accidents, they are legally responsible for compensating victims for any injuries their drunk driving cases.

If you or a loved one have suffered injuries caused by drunk driving, you may be entitled to compensation. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC our attorneys have represented people injured in drunk driving-related car accidents. Drivers who choose to drive while impaired should be held legally and financially accountable for their actions.

Our skilled Charlotte personal injury attorneys know how to represent the best interests of our clients assertively. We conduct thorough investigations into our client's case in order to fight for their right to compensation. To learn how our attorneys can help you, contact our Charlotte personal injury law firm today.

How Prevalent are Alcohol-Related Car Accident Fatalities?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that driving while impaired or intoxicated resulted in over 10,000 fatalities in 2016. Alcohol-related car accidents accounted for 28% of all traffic-related fatalities in the United States. In 2016, 17% of alcohol-related traffic deaths happened to children age 0-14 years old.

Additionally, the CDC noted that 111 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving occurred every year by adults in the United States. Over 16% of all motor vehicle accidents involved legal and illegal drug use.

Users of marijuana were 25% more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle crash than drivers who had no evidence of marijuana. Every day, nearly 30 people in the United States died in drunk driving accidents in 2019. Drunk driving accidents cause over 44 billion in damages per year in the United States.

North Carolina Drunk Driving Laws

Like many other states, North Carolina has a strict drunk driving law. North Carolina prohibits drivers from driving while under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicating substance. Under North Carolina law, a driver is driving while intoxicated if he or she does any one or more of the following:

  • Operates a commercial vehicle on a street or public highway with a blood-alcohol level of .04% or higher.
  • Operates a motor vehicle while alcohol, drugs, or any combination of the two impair his or her physical or mental abilities even if the driver’s blood-alcohol level is .08% or less.
  • Operates a motor vehicle on a street, highway, or other areas with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher.
The Difference Between a Drunk Driving Conviction and a Civil Lawsuit

Criminal convictions and civil personal injury lawsuits are two separate processes. North Carolina prosecutors can bring a drunk driving charge against a driver. If convicted, the driver could face penalties, jail time, and a driver's license suspension. Filing a civil personal injury lawsuit is a separate legal process than a criminal court proceeding. In other words, civil plaintiffs are not guaranteed compensation from the drunk driver just because the driver is convicted of illegal drunk driving.

People injured in a drunk driving accident can file a personal injury lawsuit regardless of whether or not the drunk driver faces criminal charges. When a North Carolina criminal court convicts a driver of a drunk driver, the injured party may be able to use evidence presented in the criminal trial in his or her civil personal injury lawsuit.

Damages Available for People Injured in Drunk Driving Injuries

If you have suffered an injury in a drunk driving accident, you may be entitled to several different types of damages. North Carolina tort law recognizes two main types of damages available to plaintiffs - compensatory and punitive.

Courts award compensatory damages to return the injured party to the way they were before the car accident. Compensatory damages include the following: lost wages, medical bills, and other easily quantifiable costs related to the injury. In egregious cases, plaintiffs are entitled to additional punitive damages in order to punish the defendant.

Drunk driving often meets the standard required for punitive damages because it rises to the level of egregious or malicious conduct. If you have suffered an injury in a drunk driving car accident, our attorneys can help. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today to schedule your free initial consultation.

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