One of the most reckless things that another person could do is to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. When an intoxicated driver causes an injury accident in Florence, we’ll be there to get answers and justice for the victim.
Drunk driving accidents are unfortunately common, even in our community. For example, the Alabama Media Group reported that a 28-year-old Florence woman was sentenced to 51 months in prison for a fatal crash that killed an 86-year-old Alabama doctor in February 2017. The woman had been indicted for manslaughter, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide.
Drunk driving is a criminal offense in Alabama, and a person who causes a motor vehicle accident because they were driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs will likely face serious criminal charges. The state prosecutes offenders and seeks punishments for the violation, but the people who are injured and the families of those killed by drunk drivers must file their own civil actions to recover compensation for their losses.
No one should have to deal with injuries caused by a drunk driver, and if you do, you shouldn’t have to face these challenges alone. Since 1966, the experienced trial attorneys of Morris, King, & Hodge, P.C., have fought for the rights of people who’ve been hurt in Florence and across North Alabama.
The attorneys of Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., want to fight for you. Call us or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Proving Liability for a Florence, Alabama DUI Car Crash
The first thing to keep in mind about a drunk driving accident lawsuit is that it is a civil matter, completely independent of any criminal case. This is important because a DUI offender could be acquitted of their criminal charges – or never charged at all – but still found civilly liable.
The distinction comes from two different burdens of proof involved in these cases. A prosecutor in a criminal case is required to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but you only have to prove your civil case by a preponderance of the evidence, a far lower burden.
The result often means that though a drunk driver may avoid a criminal conviction, they may not be protected in a civil case. Following an accident, you should seek the guidance of an experienced attorney as soon as possible for help preserving all of the evidence needed to prove the other driver’s intoxication.
Alabama establishes a legal limit of 0.08 percent for a person’s blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC), and many drivers who are arrested with BACs below that legal limit will be able to avoid criminal convictions for not having BACs in violation of the law.
A lower BAC may not automatically exempt a drunk driver from civil liability, however, as a jury could very well determine that such a level of intoxication still constituted negligent behavior, entitling a victim to compensation.
Seeking DUI Victim Settlement in Florence, Alabama
Insurance companies know that they are in a difficult position when one of their drivers has been accused of drunk driving. Many insurers will attempt to quickly resolve these cases through quick settlements to make the claim go away.
While accepting a lump sum settlement may seem like a convenient and easy way to conclude your case, you likely deserve way more than what they’re offering you. Don’t let them trick you into taking less than what you’ll truly need to rebuild your life and move on from the crash.
An attorney will be able to negotiate a fair settlement that takes into account all of the past, present, and future expenses you will incur because of the drunk driver’s negligence. If an insurance company is refusing to provide adequate compensation, your lawyer can file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires to seek damages in court.
Settlements are generally far more common than lawsuits because insurance companies are wary of taking cases to trial. The attorneys of Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., will do whatever it takes to get you the compensation you’re entitled to, whether that means negotiating a settlement, or taking your case to court.
Common Injuries from Drunk Driving Accidents
Many drunk driving crashes involve speeding or reckless maneuvers that ultimately worsen the nature of the injuries that result. People involved in these accidents can incur lengthy hospital stays and require extended periods of rehabilitation, as well as a possible inability to return to work.
Common injuries people suffer in drunk driving accidents include:
- Fractures and broken bones
- Head, neck, and facial injuries
- Internal organ injuries
In the unfortunate event that a person is killed by a drunk driver, the surviving family may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek compensation for various losses associated with the death. In addition to suing the drunk driver, you may also have a dram shop claim against the bar or establishment that sold or furnished alcohol to the drunk driver. If you’ve lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident, the attorneys of Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., want to help you move forward.
Drunk Driving Car Accident Facts
SafeWise, a safety information website, used NHTSA data to identify the states with the most and least fatalities from impaired driving crashes. SafeWise reported that Alabama had the fifth-highest fatality rate in the United States with 5.49 impaired driving deaths per 100,000 people. New Jersey had the best (1.38) while Wyoming had the worst rate (7.59).
Crash Facts from the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) stated that 10,009 drivers influenced by alcohol or drugs were involved in crashes in a single recent year. Of these drivers, roughly 6,500 were men, while less than 3,000 were women. The percentage of DUI crashes by the day broke down such that Sunday had the highest percentage with 33.6 percent, followed by Saturday with 29.6 percent and Friday with 23.6 percent.
How Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., Can Help
If you suffered severe injuries or lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident in Florence or a surrounding area of Alabama, you deserve quality legal representation. Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., will compassionately handle your Florence car accident case on a contingency fee basis, which means you won’t pay us a penny until we secure compensation for you.
Our firm has been helping residents and visitors to Alabama since 1966. Call us or contact us online to receive a free consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.
Drinking and Driving Charges
Under Alabama law, it is illegal to drive or be in physical control of a vehicle under the following conditions:
- A driver whose blood contains .08 percent or more concentration of alcohol;
- A person under the influence of a drug to the extent that it makes him or her incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle;
- Commercial truck drivers whose blood alcohol concentration is .04 percent or higher;
- Young drivers whose blood alcohol concentration is .02 percent or higher;
- School bus drivers and daycare drivers whose blood alcohol content is .02 percent or higher.
Consumption of alcohol slows a driver’s reactions to changing traffic conditions, affects judgment and concentration, reduces alertness, and may affect vision and speech.
A driver charged with Driving Under the Influence who refuses to submit to a chemical breath test when directed by a law officer shall have his or her driver’s license suspended. The driver may face criminal prosecution for driving under the influence. Upon a first conviction of driving under the influence, a drunk driver faces a fine of $600 to $2,100, a driver’s license suspension, and up to a year in jail. The penalties for second and subsequent convictions of driving under the influence are more severe.
Why A DUI Accident Victim Should Explore an Injury Claim
A DUI conviction may get a drunk driver off Alabama roads for a period of time. However, a criminal conviction will not provide any restitution for an accident victim injured by a drunk driver or the family of a person killed by a drunk driver. The victim of a drunk driver will need to file a separate civil lawsuit seeking to hold the drunk driver liable for the harm caused. A civil lawsuit is handled separately from any criminal proceedings involving a driver charged with driving under the influence. If the drunk driver was driving in the scope of their employment, an injury victim may also have a claim against the at-fault driver’s employer. In some cases, a DUI accident victim may have an injury claim under Alabama’s dram shop law against a bar, tavern, or another establishment that sold alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person or a person under age 21. Bringing a successful claim under the dram shop laws requires finding eyewitnesses who saw alcohol being served and can give testimony that the person appeared visibly intoxicated. There are time limits for making these claims so hiring an attorney promptly is critical.
Alabama Dram Shop Laws Apply to a Variety of Establishments
Bars, taverns, restaurants, and other establishments that serve alcohol have a legal responsibility to the public not to sell or serve alcohol to someone who is already intoxicated and is likely to cause a serious accident. They may also be held liable when they sell or serve alcohol to young people who are not of legal age to consume alcohol.
The Dram Shop laws apply to:
- Convenience Stores
- Grocery Stores
- Corporate Business Events
- Liquor Stores
- Package Stores
- Social Clubs
Under certain circumstances, there may be “social host” liability for those who host a house party and knowingly furnish alcohol to party guests who are minors under the legal drinking age.
What Compensation Can Victims of a Drunk Driver Recover?
If your drunk driving accident liability claim is successful, you may be able to recover compensation for
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills and rehabilitation costs
- Permanent injuries or disfigurement
- Present and future lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Alabama law limits the amount of time that people who are injured or who have lost loved ones have to file legal actions against those responsible for the accidents. It is important to speak with a knowledgeable lawyer right away so the lawyer can start investigating the accident and preserving evidence before it is lost.
Free Drunk Driving Injury Consultation
The initial consultation to discuss your accident claim is free. If we handle your drunk driving accident injury claim, we will take the case on a contingency fee basis. You will not owe any fees or costs unless we obtain money for you.
Speak with A Huntsville Drunk Driving Injury Attorney
Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., based in Huntsville, Alabama, handles personal injury claims in Florence related to drunk driving accidents in counties and cities throughout Alabama, including Athens, Decatur, Fort Payne, Guntersville, Scottsboro, Cullman, and Birmingham. We have helped many Alabamians get back on their feet after a serious injury, and we would like to help you.
Please call our experienced drunk driving accident attorney in Huntsville or use our quick contact web form. We will answer your questions and discuss your legal options during a courtesy consultation.