Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
The drunk driving facts in Missouri are quite sobering. More than 3,000 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes from 2003 to 2012, according to the CDC. Drunk drivers often fail to obey traffic signals, drift into other lanes and speed. It’s not unusual for drunk driver to cause rollovers, T-bone crashes, head-on collisions and rear-end crashes. Drunk driving accidents tend to result in fatal or catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries (TBI), spinal cord injuries, broken bones, amputations and organ damage. People who suffer such bad injuries may be left with permanent or temporary disability. Some may even be unable to care for themselves or work. In the case of a fatality or severe injury, families and injured victims will need significant compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages and related losses.
Getting Justice From Responsible Parties
In Missouri, if a driver is convicted of a DUI, it establishes “negligence per se.” This means that the driver’s wrongful conduct is presumed. In a wrongful death lawsuit or a personal injury lawsuit, attorneys focus on how the driver’s misconduct was the proximate cause of harm. But a DUI conviction is not needed to seek compensation. Even if the operator of the vehicle was not legally intoxicated, the use of alcohol may have impaired the driver’s ability to operate a vehicle in a safe manner.
And the drunk driver is not the only one who can be sued.
Under Missouri’s dram shop law, you may sue other parties who contributed to the accident, such as restaurants, bars, stores or party hosts. The law states that the person must have been visibly intoxicated by significant physical dysfunction or uncoordinated physical action. The plaintiffs must convince the jury that the operator of the vehicle was clearly drunk and the establishment knowingly continued to serve that person alcohol. This is accomplished by using witnesses from the establishment who can testify that the intoxicated person continued to be served alcohol even though that person was obviously drunk. The Legal Limit and Damages
In the state of Missouri, it is illegal to operate a vehicle if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.08. If the driver was charged with a DUI, an attorney will seek evidence to prove that the driver was alcohol-impaired. This evidence includes:
- Blood test results
- Standard field sobriety test results
- Breathalyzer test results
- Statements from law enforcement
- Other evidence, such as statements from witnesses that the operator of the vehicle had bloodshot eyes or smelled of alcohol.
When it comes to seeking compensation for damages, all insurance policies held by responsible parties are reviewed. In a personal injury lawsuit that stems from a drunk driving collision, you may be able to recover compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages and medical expenses. In a wrongful death claim, you may be eligible for other damages, such as loss of companionship of a loved one and funeral expenses. Additional punitive damage may be awarded for reckless conduct like drunk driving. Missouri currently has no caps in place on damages in personal injury cases. However, under Missouri’s pure comparative fault rule, your damages will be reduced to the degree that you contributed to the accident. Like many other states, Missouri has a statute of limitations. The time limit for bring a lawsuit is five years from the date of the accident.
How a DUI Affects Your Personal Injury Claim
If the driver who caused the accident was intoxicated, the chances of losing at trial are just about nonexistent. Juries have no tolerance or sympathy for drunk drivers. To avoid trial, many insurance companies will pay a little more just to settle a DUI case. You may even be able to settle the case without a lawsuit if the injuries weren’t all that serious. On the flip side, insurance companies don’t pay the full value of more serious injuries prior to suit, even in DUI cases. Most defense attorneys wait until the plaintiff’s attorney has identified the plaintiff’s expert witnesses before talking seriously about settlement. Settlement negotiations can take a long time, but most personal injury cases are settled prior to trial.
When to Contact a Drunk Driving Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident due to a drunk driver, it’s best to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to get a fair settlement. Many insurance companies will low-ball the offer just to save money. Contact us today to set up your consultation with the legal team at Bley & Evans Trial Attorneys. There will be no charge for the initial evaluation, and from there we can work tirelessly to guide you through the often complicated legal process and work toward the best outcome possible in your case. Contact our office at 844-443-8385.