Georgia Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
Updated September 2021
Injured & Hit by a Drunk Driver in Georgia?
Are you looking for a Georgia drunk driving accident lawyer? Car accidents where you have been injured or hit by a drunk driver in Georgia or one that involves DUIs are legally complicated. It’s important that you understand your rights and how to protect yourself and your family. You don’t want to let a criminal attorney handle your personal injury case as they would be focused on the DUI aspect of the case. If you’ve been injured by a drunk driver then you need an experienced DUI accident expert to focus on your needs and to fight to be sure you get the settlement and compensation you deserve.
What Happens if a Drunk Driver Hits You?
If you are hit by a drunk driver you should immediately call 911. It is very important for a police officer to come to the scene of the accident. That officer will do a police report and chemical testing of the person who was intoxicated. These two steps are critical for your drunk driving injury case to prove the person driving was drunk or intoxicated.
Is It Worth Suing a Drunk Driver?
Drunk drivers may have criminal charges from driving while under the influence. If they have injured you or a family member then you have the right to sue for civil damages from any medical injuries or losses that have occurred because of the accident.
What Do You Do After a Drunk Driving Accident?
After you call 911 it is important to receive a medical evaluation. A lot of injuries may not be seen physically but you may have internal ones. The DUI crash attorneys at the Murphy Personal Injury Law Firm accept calls 24/7. It is very important to call us soon as possible so we can help answer any questions you may have and legally guide you through the process the right way.
At the scene: As with all car accidents, the first thing to do is check for injuries and make everyone as safe as possible. Usually, it’s better to wait for medical assistance before you move anyone who is injured but. If their life is in danger, you might have to move them before help arrives but it is better to let medical professionals take care of this because they are more familiar with injuries.
If you have any reason to suspect the other driver is driving under the influence or has broken Georgia’s laws on transporting open alcohol containers – then you need to call the police and stay at the scene until they arrive. You will need a copy of the police report to help with your claim. Also, “leaving the scene” is an offense. Take pictures of everything you can if you’re able to.
After the fact: It will help your claim if you write down key information regarding the accident while the details are fresh. Call the police department and get a copy of your police report. Take pictures of any injuries – that include abrasions, bruises, cuts, etc. Create a pain journal to document your injuries, to track your pain and your treatments. Do NOT miss any of your doctor appointments and be sure you’re telling your doctor ALL of your injuries including any numbness or headaches you’re experiencing. You need to do everything you can to recover 100%. It will also help your case if you don’t skip treatment and have all of your injuries documented and treated by a doctor.
We here at Murphy Law Firm will help you get your medical bills and expenses dealt with later – with or without health insurance.
Can You File a Lawsuit Against a Drunk Driver?
If someone has hit you while impaired, it is your legal right to sue them for your injuries and losses. Our personal injury lawyers can help you with the steps to do this.
Drunk drivers are responsible for more than 20% of Georgia’s fatal car accidents! You may know that drunk drivers are punished by our criminal justice system with fines, probation, and even jail time. However, most people are not aware that the same justice system can award punitive damages (damages paid for your injuries because of the negligence of another person) as well.
Georgia law O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1 states that punitive damages can be awarded to victims when the person that caused the accident and injury behaved in a way that showed a “reckless indifference to the consequences”. The concept is that punitive damages are awarded in order to further punish the offender and deter future reckless behavior. These are the kinds of facts that an experienced drunk driving attorney knows and is ready to fight for!
James Murphy Has Been Helping Drunk Driving Victims For Over 30 Years
If you’re injured in a car accident caused by an intoxicated driver in Georgia, you may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries, accident-related expenses and punitive damages. At Murphy Law you can count on being able to…
- Talk directly to an attorney who returns your phone calls.
- You will get ALL of your questions answered.
- You will get frequent updates on the status of your case.
- You will get copies of all related communication about your case.
- You will get an honest assessment of your injuries and also legal issues.
- You will get a clear explanation of your legal options and the consequences of your decisions.
- You won’t have to handle the paperwork! We’ll work directly with the insurance companies and individual adjusters on your behalf.
- You can focus on recovery. We’ll help you and your family get back on your feet physically, emotionally, and financially.
- You’ll get an aggressive and experienced personal injury law firm advocating for your rights!
- Our Georgia law offices get outstanding results for our clients.
Have you or a loved one suffered been injured by a Drunk Driver?
Call Attorney James Murphy
770-577-3020 for FREE Legal Advice!
Should I Give a Recorded Statement to the Insurance Company?
Don’t give a recorded statement to the insurance company after a DUI accident. Even if you are the victim, the insurance company can use your statement to reduce the value of your claim dramatically. This is one of the major reasons you need a skillful lawyer for drunk driving accidents on your side to handle the insurance claim. If they can, the insurers will use your words to cut the value of your claim by tens of thousands of dollars. An accident attorney will be able to guide you through the insurance process safely and protect your claim from the insurance company and this tactic.
How Do I Know if The Driver Who Hit Me Was Drunk or Intoxicated
Was the driver driving erratically or weaving in and out of lanes?
Did the driver look passed out over the wheel after the accident?
Did they speed up and slow down erratically?
If you saw this kind of behavior from the driver before the crash, it’s likely that the driver may have been intoxicated. Make sure to tell the officer at the scene your observations.
Police rely on statements of witnesses and others about how the accident happened. If you are suspicious that the other driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you should tell the police officer what you saw. If you notice any open containers of alcohol in the vehicle or see evidence of drug use, be sure to tell the police about this too.
Make sure you give as many accurate details that you can remember so that the officer can document the accident properly.
Does the Other Driver Being Drunk at the Time of Crash Change the Lawsuit?
If it’s proven that the driver was under the influence at the time of the accident, he or she will likely face criminal charges. However, those criminal charges will not provide your family with personal injury compensation for injuries, medical bills, or property damage.
It is best to talk to an experienced lawyer to see if you have a claim you can make against the drunk driver and the driver’s insurance company for your or a family member’s personal injuries or, in worst cases, their wrongful death.
If the driver is convicted of a DUI at the time of the accident, it should make it easier to prove that the driver was negligent. A driver convicted of violating Georgia law by driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08 or higher is generally considered to be negligent as a matter of law.
Is More Compensation Awarded to Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents?
An insurance company knows that if the driver they are insuring goes to trial, the jury will opt to be more sympathetic to the person or family harmed by the DUI driver. The insurance company will likely want to avoid going to trial and seek an out-of-court settlement. This may not be in your best interest.
Should I Accept the Insurance Company’s First Compensation Offer?
No matter what you have gone through, insurance companies will try to make a quick, initial settlement offer to you in order to minimize the amount they have to pay. These initial offers are usually much less than the claim is actually worth. We advise you to never accept an offer or sign anything presented by a drunk driver’s insurance company without consulting an accident lawyer and having an experienced professional review the case, evidence, and offer.
What Happens If I’ve Lost a Loved One Because of a DUI Driver?
When you lose a loved one in an accident, your family shouldn’t have to suffer this loss without answers. If the death was caused by a drunk driver, you may be able to get financial compensation to help your family through a Georgia wrongful death claim. This kind of case can be very complicated and you should retain a lawyer who is familiar with wrongful death claims as soon as possible. You will need someone sympathetic to help guide you through this difficult process. If your loved one was killed by a DUI driver, one of the first things your attorney will do is review your case of wrongful death to determine if a survival action claim can be filed. This type of claim seeks compensation for the victim and makes sure that all medical expenses relating to the crash are covered, as well as compensation for the suffering.
What is legally considered a Drunk Driving Accident in Georgia?
In simple terms, a Drunk Driving Accident is when one or more drivers in a motor accident have been driving under the influence of alcohol. According to Georgia’s DUI laws, this is when the driver meets one or more of the following:
- Blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher
- BAC of 0.04 or higher if a professional or commercial driver
- BAC of 0.02 or higher if the driver was under the age of 21
- Refuses to take a blood alcohol test or submit blood or urine sample for testing
- The driver is on medication and also has alcohol in their system
- Any signs of Marijuana or illegal drugs in their system
When dealing with the aftermath of a Drunk Driving Accident, it is especially important to contact a professional personal injury lawyer with experience with drunk driving accidents as soon as possible after the case. Drunk Driving accidents tend to be both criminal and civil cases, and they can be quite difficult to navigate without professional assistance.
How is a Drunk Driving Accident different from an ordinary accident?
The main difference between drunk driving accidents and ordinary car accidents is that drunk driving accidents are criminal, driving under the influence (DUI) accidents before they are personal injury accidents. While the criminal trial results may be of some help to your later claim for your injuries, the prosecutor is working on behalf of the state, and you will still need a lawyer to help you with your personal injury claim. Even if the other driver was found not guilty in their criminal trial, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a case. The burden of proof in a civil trial is lower than in a criminal trial, and an attorney with experience in drunk driving accidents will help you understand these details better to improve your chances of being properly compensated for your injuries.
Does Insurance Cover the Damages in a Drunk Driving Accident?
The answer to this might be different depending on the details of your specific policy. However, in general, the drunk driver’s insurance is still liable to pay for the damages to the other party. In other words, if a drunk driver was responsible for your injuries as a result of a drunk driving accident, their insurance generally still needs to pay according to the driver’s degree of fault for the accident. Assuming that the other driver has the minimum degree of liability protection, insurance coverage would be up to $30,000 per person for injuries, up to $60,000 for the entire accident for injuries, and up to $25,000 for property damage, such as damage to your car.
If you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) in your insurance plan, that coverage may also help you recover your damages from the accident.
Depending on the details of their policy, the drunk driver’s insurance policy may not cover damages to their vehicle or injuries they suffer from the accident, and the policy may likely have been violated or the rates raised as a result of such an accident.
How Long Do You Have to File Your Claim After a Drunk Driving Accident?
The Statute of Limitations (time limit) for filing a drunk driving accident claim is a little more complicated than most personal injury claims. Like most personal injury claims, the default limit is two years, but it can be a little more complicated as drunk driving accidents are also criminal incidents. The Statute of Limitations is ‘tolled’ or temporarily paused while the drunk driver is facing criminal prosecution, for a maximum of six years or until the criminal proceedings are completed or terminated, whichever is shorter. This is because many pieces of evidence about the accident are not available until the criminal trial is over. You will then be able to go over the evidence with your lawyer and decide if you want to settle your case or take it to court.
Are Drunk Drivers Considered at Fault for an Accident?
While it is not a guarantee that a drunk driver will be considered fully liable for an accident, driving under the influence is a factor that almost always is taken into account when determining who is at fault for an accident, and how much of the fault they are responsible for.
As Georgia is a state that goes by comparative fault, while they might not be 100% at fault, driving under the influence will likely count heavily against them. If the other driver was also driving in an unsafe manner, that driver’s behavior might reduce their fault, but the drunk driver will likely be found to be more responsible for the accident.
Unlike in other personal injury cases, where character evidence is generally not admissible if the driver had previous incidences of drunk driving, that could also count against them.
Could a Bar Be Liable For a Drunk Driving Accident Of Their Customers?
Sometimes! These kinds of claims are called “Dram Shop” claims and happen when someone – either a business or a private individual – overserve alcohol to an individual who will be driving soon. Some of the conditions behind a Dram Shop lawsuit are:
- Served alcohol to a noticeably intoxicated customer
- Knew or should have known the customer was going to be driving
- Served alcohol to a minor, who then drove while intoxicated
These facts can be difficult for an ordinary person to investigate. The difficulty of investigating these incidents is one of many reasons why it can be important to get in touch with a lawyer with experience dealing with drunk driving accidents as soon as possible after an accident. An experienced lawyer will properly track down staff or customers who may have personally witnessed the events leading up to the accident.
What are the Penalties For First-time Drunk Driving Accidents?
Unlike in some other states, in Georgia, drunk driving is always a criminal offense. While the penalties for multiple offenses are much more severe than for the first incident, a DUI is always a serious affair. The penalties for first-time offenders include:
- Criminal misdemeanor offense on record
- Fine of up to $500
- 30 to 180 days of license suspension depending on circumstances
- 8 to 40 hours of community service required
- Must attend mandatory alcohol awareness classes
Drunk drivers are also more likely to be found to be responsible for the accidents that happen while they are intoxicated. If you or a loved one have been hurt in an accident with a drunk driver, contact a lawyer with Drunk Driving Accident experience for a free consultation on how they can help.
What Damages Are Typically Covered in a Drunk Driving Accident in Georgia?
While the criminal aspects of drunk driving accidents usually receive the most attention, drunk driving accidents where someone is hurt are still also personal injury cases. When you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, the damages that might be compensated for include:
- Medical bills from the accident, as well as predicted future expenses for treatment
- Lost wages from the time unable to work due to the accident
- Property damage, such as the cost of repairing your car
- Travel expenses for medical appointments
- Pain and suffering for physical pain or lowered quality of life due to the accident
Depending on the details of the case, you may also be awarded punitive damages if the driver’s behavior was particularly reckless. A lawyer with experience dealing with Drunk Driving Accidents will be able to help you to pursue the compensation you deserve.
How Long Will a DUI Be on a Drunk Driver’s Record in Georgia?
For record-keeping, a DUI remains on your record forever. To determine sentences for repeated incidents, Georgia only “looks back” at the last ten years.
This means that after ten year period with no incidents, a second DUI would then be considered as a first-time offense, but if more than one incident happened within ten years, it would lead to more severe penalties, including:
- Steeper fines, ranging from $600 to $5000 depending on the incident
- Longer probation, from 12 months to 5 years
- More required community service hours
- Required ignition interlock, preventing you from starting your car if any alcohol is in your system
- Loss of your license plate
- And possibly more
As driving under the influence is incredibly dangerous, Georgia’s drunk driving laws are some of the most strict in the country. Still, criminal prosecution alone will not result in the damages to victims receiving compensation. Contacting a Personal Injury Attorney is the first step to pursuing your claim to ensure that your injuries and medical expenses receive proper care.
What is the Heaviest Sentence for a DUI / Drunk Driving Accident?
While any drunk driving incident is a serious issue in Georgia, repeat offenders and particularly serious incidents are liable for much steeper penalties. If a particularly irresponsible driver commits a DUI infraction more than three times, they can end up facing serious consequences, including:
- One to five years in prison
- Five years probation, reduced by time served in prison
- Fines of $2500 to $5000
- Loss of license plate
- Five years drivers license suspension
- Required alcohol awareness classes (“DUI school”)
- Mandatory clinical evaluation and, if needed, recommended treatment program
- A felony conviction on criminal record
- Photographed local publication of status as drunk driving offender at own expense
Georgia takes drunk driving very seriously. If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident with someone you suspect may have been driving under the influence, please reach out to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case, absolutely free.