Columbus Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
Injury cases or wrongful death cases caused by a drunk driver are the most upsetting and anger-provoking cases we deal with on a day-to-day basis. Throughout the world, drunk drivers are causing serious injuries or fatal injuries to innocent victims, and the victims are left to deal with never-ending medical bills, emotional distress, grief, and the sudden financial problems that surface due to the unfair accident.
Drunk Driving Crash Statistics
- 11,654 people died in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes in 2020, totaling 30% of all traffic deaths in the United States for the year (NHTSA)
- Of the 1,093 traffic fatalities in 2020 among children age 14 or younger, 20% involved an alcohol-impaired-driving crash (NHTSA)
- Fatalities in alcohol-impaired-driving accidents increased by 14.3% from 2019 to 2020 (NHTSA)
- 1 alcohol-impaired-driving accident happened every 45 minutes in 2020 (NHTSA)
- The percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal accidents was the highest for motorcycle riders at a staggering 27% in 2020 (NHTSA)
At GBM Law, we aggressively pursue claims against irresponsible drunk drivers and the establishments that improperly serve them. Although the law can never replace a loved one, it does provide the finances victims need to recover medically, financially, and emotionally.
Do I Have a Case?
People who serve alcoholic beverages may be liable under Ohio law for damages resulting from the consumption of alcoholic beverages. (O.R.C. Ann. 4301.22, 4301.69).
Liability may be imposed either under specific laws (dram shop laws) or under the general law of negligence.
Dram shop laws (dram was once a common term for liquor) are laws that impose liability for negligence on the sellers of alcoholic beverages for sales to persons under the legal drinking age or to those who are obviously intoxicated. (O.R.C. Ann. 4301.22, 4301.69).
A dram shop claim or lawsuit allows victims to sue the sellers for the harms they suffered as a result of being injured by a drunk driver who has been overserved by a bar or restaurant.
Liability can attach to social hosts as well. A social host is an individual who serves alcoholic beverages in a social setting, such as a home or a party, or in the case of an employer, one who serves alcoholic beverages at a company function. The social host is not required to make sure that no one is consuming more alcohol than they can handle unless the host can reasonably be aware of a problem and prevent it. In the State of Ohio, the social host can be held liable (Huston v. Konieczny, 52 Ohio St. 3d 214, 556 N.E. 2d 505 (1990)).
How Do I Prove a Drunk Driving Accident Case?
You simply never know when a drunk driver may cross your path and cause a serious collision. As in all motor vehicle accident cases, it is essential that measures be taken to promptly preserve evidence to help investigators determine negligence and responsibility.
It is common for a drunk driver to ask you to not call the police after a crash. However, you must call law enforcement so that they can provide an independent investigation of the accident scene and preserve necessary evidence. You may also see evidence of impairment yourself, before law enforcement is on-scene. You can video the other driver to demonstrate any slurred speech or difficulty walking that you might observe. Sometimes, bottles or cans of alcohol are inside the vehicle. If you observe this, or the other driver trying to get rid of this evidence, you can take photos or videos and tell law enforcement what you witnessed.
Have You or a Loved One Been the Victim of a Drunk Driving Accident?
We will use our experience to investigate every possible contributing cause of the accident to determine responsibility and negligence and ensure that you receive not only medical attention for your injuries, but full compensation for your suffering. Hiring a lawyer can also help you navigate your options in finding medical providers if you are having difficulty. Many medical providers refuse to treat patients injured in car accidents. The lawyers at GBM Law have years of experience in helping accident victims obtain the care they need and get their medical bills covered. Our initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds on your behalf.
You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but your claim must be fully settled or a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.
FAQs About Drunk Driving Accidents
Is My Claim Somehow Different Because I Was Hit by a Drunk Driver?
Yes, your claim is more complex when you were hit by a drunk driver. When a driver chooses to drive under the influence, the penalties are greater. The drunk driver will likely have criminal charges filed against them, and you may be called by the prosecutor to testify about what happened and your observations. The civil liability of the drunk driver is also greater. As the victim, the drunk driver may be liable to you for punitive damages in addition to the compensatory damages available with general negligence claims.
What is Legally Considered Drunk for a Driver in Ohio?
In Ohio, you do not have to be driving a motor vehicle while impaired to be considered a drunk driver. Ohio uses the term “Operating a Vehicle Impaired” (OVI), which applies to almost every vehicle, including bikes and horse-drawn carriages.
If you are over the age of 21, your alcohol blood levels and breath alcohol content must be .08 or greater, .096 for blood serum or blood plasma tests, or .11 for urine tests.
For drivers younger than 21, the legal limit is even lower:
- .02 for breath or blood
- .03 for blood serum or plasma
- .028 for urine tests
Ohio also has more penalties for “high tier” test results, or test results significantly higher than the legal limit. “High tier” test results must be at least:
- .17 for breath and blood
- .204 for serum or plasma
- .238 for urine
Offenders with “high tier” test results face a doubled minimum jail time requirement.
Will the Insurance Company for the Drunk Driver Handle the Claim Differently Than a Car Crash?
Although insurance companies usually want to settle claims quickly, before victims have a chance to know what to do, the pressure to settle is much greater when the other driver was drunk. Insurance companies know that you have additional claims you can bring against a drunk driver, so they want to eliminate all of that risk quickly by pressuring you to settle fast.
How Much is My Drunk Driving Injury Claim Worth?
The worth of a drunk driving claim depends on your case. Insurance companies, in our experience, tend to “lowball” the worth of your claim. To ensure you’re getting what your claim is really worth, contact the attorneys at GBM Law for more information.
What is a Dram Shop Lawsuit or Dram Shop Claim?
Ohio law permits recovery against an entity that sold alcohol to an intoxicated person OR a person under the age of 21, where the alcohol contributed to the person’s intoxication and that intoxication cause the injuries. These dram act claims can be challenging to prove and must be acted upon quickly. It is important to have contact with the bar or other alcohol-serving entity soon after the incident to preserve evidence such as potential witnesses, video footage, and purchase receipts.
What if the Drunk Driver Did Not Have Insurance? Do I Still Have a Claim?
Yes, it is still possible to have a claim even when the drunk driver did not have insurance. If the drunk driver was operating a car that he or she did not own, the owner of that vehicle may be liable for negligent entrustment of their vehicle to the drunk driver. Additionally, your own insurance company may have sold you insurance coverage to protect yourself when you were hurt by an uninsured driver.
Is it Normal to Feel Angry After Being Hit by a Drunk Driver?
Yes. Most victims of drunk driving accidents experience significant anger and frustration after drunk driving crashes because it feels very intentional when someone chose to act dangerously and with disregard for those they were likely to harm. Simply put, humans tend to be more forgiving after honest mistakes, and drinking and driving is not an honest mistake.
What are Common Drunk Driving Accident Injuries?
Some of the most common injuries from a drunk driving car crash include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal injuries and paralysis
- Organ damage and internal bleeding
- Soft tissue damage and injuries
- Broken bones
In some cases, you may not notice symptoms of injuries right away, which is why it’s imperative to seek medical attention as soon as possible for your case.
Insurance companies will often try to challenge your case to minimize your settlement, and a delay of a few days between the accident and when you sought out care is sufficient evidence to put your claim in question.
What Damages Can Be Recovered After a Drunk Driving Accident?
The damages that can be recovered after a drunk driving accident include:
In some drunk driving accident cases, you may also be able to recover punitive damages, which are intended to punish the wrongdoer, but only if their actions are proven to be reckless, grossly negligent, or motivated by malice. Punitive damages are not meant to compensate victims for their loss, whether it’s the death of a loved one or financial loss.
Why Hire a Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer?
Hiring a drunk driving accident lawyer can help victims of these crashes access resources that not only help manage these additional frustrations but also increase the overall value of their claim.
The attorneys at GBM Law, a Columbus, Ohio, personal injury law firm, have worked for over 40 years in the field and have recovered over $200 million from verdicts and settlements for our clients.
We work on a contingency fee basis, so we won’t take a penny unless you accept a settlement or win a verdict.