Drunk Driving Accidents Overview
Drunk driving is among the most common causes of vehicle collisions. The majority of drunk driving accidents are those in which two automobiles collide. Alcohol-related incidents can also involve motorcyclists, tractor-trailer drivers, boaters, pedestrians and bicyclists. Victims of drunk driving accidents can result in wrongful death or serious injuries such as catastrophic injuries, broken bones, traumatic brain injury, neck, back, and spinal cord injuries.
Georgia and Tennessee statutes permit charges of driving while intoxicated (DWI) to be lodged whenever a motorist is found to be operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration registering .08 or higher. Not only does the law hold an intoxicated motorist responsible when collisions or injuries occur, social hosts and establishments that serve alcohol may also suffer serious consequences.
Dram Shop Act and Related Liability Laws
Tennessee and Georgia law define a “Dram Shop” as an establishment in which alcohol is purchased and consumed on site, and can include restaurants, bars and lounges. In both Tennessee and Georgia, the Dram Shop Act is a law that holds individuals or public establishments liable if they illegally sell or provide alcohol. Circumstances that trigger liability under the Act include selling alcohol to minors, selling alcohol without the necessary license, selling to an individual who is clearly already intoxicated and serving to an underage guest (referred to as Social Host Liability). Under the Act, if an individual or establishment’s decision to serve alcohol ultimately results in injury or death, legal responsibility may be imposed upon that person or entity.
Do Not Rely On Insurance Companies
Do not accept any claim before you speak with Chattanooga drunk driving accident attorney. Many large insurance companies have adopted settlement policies that encourage their adjusters to offer quick payments to persons involved in an accident. Insurance adjusters will contact you or your family shortly after an accident to try to gain your confidence. In doing so, insurance adjusters often try to present themselves as the friend of the injured person or the family of the person who was killed in an accident. The goal of such contact is to settle the case on terms as favorable as possible for the insurance company.
You Are Our Top Priority
Dennis and King are old-fashion Chattanooga drunk driving lawyers who limit the number of cases we take so we can give top-flight personal service. We are not a big “settlement mill” that will merely process your case. We maintain a statewide reputation for the care we take with each of our clients. Experience the Dennis and King difference.
Our success is attributed to the combination of experience, expertise, and exceptional dedication to the needs of every client. Many accidents are caused by negligence, so it is imperative that anyone involved in an accident contact an experienced Chattanooga injury attorney. Please remember that it is vital to act swiftly after you’ve been injured. The sooner you involve a Chattanooga personal injury attorney, the better we will be able to preserve evidence, gather essential witnesses and address any other important factors.
- Medical reimbursement
- Payment for past and future income loss
- Full compensation for pain and suffering
- Peace of mind in knowing that Chattanooga drunk driving accident attorneys are protecting your financial interests.
We Are There For You
- Same day, evening and weekend appointments
- Home and hospital visits for the severely injured
- Never a fee until we receive a settlement for you
- We will go to trial if a fair settlement is not obtained
- Serving Georgia and Tennessee
What Should I Do If I’ve Been Injured in a Drunk Driving Accident?
Immediately following your accident, seek medical care. It is vital to your health that you get the treatment you need and your claims will be taken much more seriously in the future if you received prompt medical attention following the accident.
Never try to argue with the other driver, particularly if you suspect that he or she is intoxicated.
If you cannot drive your car away from the accident, you should arrange for it to be towed. The damage done to your car is an important indicator of the extent of the accident, so do not get rid of the car even if it cannot be repaired.
To protect yourself, you need to obtain copies of all reports generated at the scene of the crime. Never give away any information without first making yourself a copy, and do not sign the other driver’s account of the accident.
Report the accident to your own insurance company.
Do not discuss the facts of the accident with the other party’s insurance company until you have contacted an attorney, and never accept any claim that the other insurance company offers you without getting a lawyer’s opinion first.
In the aftermath of a collision, it can be difficult to navigate the ensuing legal proceedings and get a fair settlement. For accidents occurring in Tennessee and Georgia, the Chattanooga personal injury law firm of Dennis and King can protect you from the other driver’s insurance company and lawyers, and work to get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Drunk Driving Accidents FAQ
Cooperate fully with the police at the scene at the accident. Be sure to get as much information from the police as possible about the identity of the other driver, their address and the name of their insurance company. You will want to be sure to be checked out by a competent physician to get an early assessment of the injuries that are caused by the accident.
Generally speaking, in Tennessee and Georgia, any injured person has the right to bring a claim against the drunk driver for the injuries they sustain in the accident.
In addition, in the event that somebody is killed as a result of a drunk driver, his or her heirs and next of kin have a right to bring a claim against the drunk driver and any bar or restaurant that served the drunk driver intoxicating beverages.
Under Tennessee and Georgia Law, fault is determined on a percentage basis. The mere fact that you may have some percentage of fault in causing an accident doesn’t necessary mean that you cannot bring a claim. Under Tennessee and Georgia Law, if you and the drunk driver contributed equally to the happening of an accident you can recover nothing. But, if your fault is a 49% or less, you have a claim.
If you are found to be more at fault then the drunk driver then you cannot recover any damages for your injuries.
In reality, there is never a presumption that a drunk driver is negligent. Under Tennessee and Georgia Law, an individual operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration in excess of .08 % is in violation of Tennessee and Georgia Statutes. A violation of this statute is prima facia evidence of negligence but does not rise to the level of creating a presumption of negligence. In effect, prima facia evidence means that the mere fact someone is intoxicated is sufficient to allow a finding of negligence by the jury after considerations of all the other factors involved in the accident.
In addition to standard compensatory damages, covering loss wages, medical bills, pain, suffering and disability there is a possibility of bringing a claim for punitive damages against a driver who was found to be operating a motor vehicle while drunk. In a wrongful death case, the surviving heirs and next of kin are allowed to recover their loss of means of support as well as the value of the loss of advice and companionship stemming from the death of a loved one. In such a case, it is also possible to bring a punitive damages claim against the individual who was driving while drunk.
In Tennessee, there is a one-year statute of limitations for claims alleging negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle by an intoxicated person. In Georgia, it is two years. The same goes for claims against the bar or restaurant that served the intoxicating beverages.
In the case of the wrongful death of an individual arising out of an accident with a drunk driver, Tennessee Law provides that a claim must be brought against the drunk driver within a period of one year after the victim’s death and in Georgia two years from the date of death.
Generally yes. However, there is no set limit of concentration of illegal substance in one’s blood stream that creates the prima facia evidence of negligence. However, evidence of the use of illegal drug is admissible to the extent that it has an effect on a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.
Yes, the Tennessee and Georgia Dram Shop Acts both provide that a licensed bar or restaurant that serves a person illegally either when they’re intoxicated or under age, is subject to liability for damages caused by the intoxicated driver.
Yes, there may be some allocation of fault to you for having gotten into a motor vehicle with somebody who was intoxicated. However, generally speaking, if his intoxication caused him to drive in such a fashion that he was negligent and failed to use reasonable care and you were injured as a result, the law allows you to make a claim against him.
Under Tennessee and Georgia Law, an injured person is not required to hire an attorney in a case against a drunk driver. However, a Chattanooga drunk driving accident attorney can provide expertise in developing the case to establish a good liability claim against the driver. In addition, an attorney can be extremely helpful in working with your doctors to provide clear and detailed medical reports outlining the nature and extent of the injuries that you’ve suffered in an accident. You can be assured that the drunk driver and the insurance company will have lawyers on the case from the beginning. By hiring a lawyer yourself, you level the playing field and increase the likelihood that you’ll receive fair treatment.