Utah Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys
The Utah drunk driving accident attorneys at Swenson & Shelley are dedicated to recovering compensation for our injured clients and seeking justice on their behalf. Despite the widespread knowledge about the dangers of drunk driving and the many campaigns to help end driving under the influence, millions of accidents occur each year because of drunk drivers. Drivers who are under the influence of alcohol account for over half of all auto accidents each year. The ones who are left with the horrible aftermath of these accidents are the innocent victims who were hit by these irresponsible drivers. Since driving under the influence is illegal, victims are entitled to compensation for the damages caused by a drunk driver. Hiring a personal injury attorney like Swenson and Shelley will increase the likelihood that a victim will get the compensation they are owed.
The Devastating Effects of Drunk Driving
It is terrifying to think that at any moment a drunk driver could seriously alter the lives of other people on the road. That terrifying thought is a harsh reality since drunk drivers cause massive damage to property and people every single day. These damages can be minor fender benders or major accidents resulting in fatalities. No matter the seriousness of the accident, victims of drunk drivers deserve to be compensated for their injuries, damaged property, or loss of a loved one.
Approximately 65% of single-car accidents are committed by someone who is driving drunk. When a drunk driver collides with a fence, home, or any piece of property owned by another person, the owner of the property can seek compensation for the damaged caused. While it is not likely to receive extra damages for emotional suffering, property owners should, at least, have the property damage covered by the drunk driver.
Physical and Emotional Injury
In any car accident, there is a high potential for serious injury. When drunk drivers are involved, the odds of serious injury increase since the driver’s reaction time is impaired and they are more likely to be speeding. Serious injuries, such as spinal injuries, head trauma, internal bleeding, and broken bones can take years to recover from. In some cases, this damage could be permanent. Victims who accrue medical bills, experience a loss of earnings, or have suffered a change in their quality of life can seek compensation. Victims should never have to pay for medical bills or suffer financially due to a drunk driving accident.
The mental and emotional health of drunk driving accident victims can suffer drastically, as well. Psychological problems like PTSD, anxiety, depression, and many other ailments can be debilitating. Some victims may not be able to get behind the wheel, or even in the passenger seat, of a vehicle again. When a victim’s life is altered from a crash, even if the wounds are not physical, they should receive a monetary settlement for their reduced quality of life. The right attorney can ensure that accident victims with mental and emotional wounds do not have to suffer alone.
The loved ones that a drunk driving accident victim leaves behind have every right to seek compensation for their lost loved one and ensure the drunk driver is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. After the criminal portion of legal matters is settled, which almost always result in serious jail time, the victim’s family should proceed to file a wrongful death suit to seek monetary compensation for their loss. Money to pay for medical bills, final expenses, and to replace lost earnings are all something that the accident victim’s family is entitled to. They may also seek compensation for mental and emotional damages that result from losing a loved one.
Drunk Driving Statistics
The statistics surrounding drunk driving accidents are both troublesome and surprising. Over the years, these statistics do not change much despite the increasing awareness of how dangerous drunk driving is. Both in Utah and across the United States, the prevalence of drunk driving accidents and other incidents is incredibly worrying. Hopefully, as people begin to realize the dangers of drunk driving, the statistics will drop, and everyone can be safer on the road.
- In 2015, 10,265 people were killed in drunk driving accidents
- Drunk driving accounts for nearly 30% of all traffic-related death in the US
- There are approximately 111 million self-reported incidents of drunk driving in the US each year
- It takes less than four alcoholic drinks for the average person to reach a BAC of .08%
Utah Drunk Driving Laws
Across the United States, each state has similar laws regarding drunk driving. Most states have a blood alcohol content, or BAC, limit of .08% for drivers over 21 years of age. Most of Utah’s drunk driving laws align with the rest of the country, but there are a few notable differences. The following are some of Utah’s most important drinking and driving laws.
- Drivers with a BAC higher than .04% are required to take an impairment test
- Effective December 30, 2018, drivers with a BAC of .08% or higher will be charged with a DUI
- The “Not-a-Drop” law states that drivers under 21 cannot have any amount of alcohol in their system
- The penalty for a DUI depends on the number of DUIs committed and the severity of the offense
Action to Take After a Drunk Driving Accident
After a drunk driver causes an accident, it is important to follow a few steps to begin the path to getting justice for the accident. Irresponsible drivers should be penalized to the full extent of the law and award compensation to their victims. By taking the proper first steps after a drunk driving accident, the road to receiving compensation will be much easier. Knowledgeable personal injury attorneys, like Swenson and Shelley, can help victims to understand the steps to take after suffering in an accident due to a drunk driver.
Call the Police
While some minor accidents may be handled without the presence of a police officer, any accident that is believed to be the result of an intoxicated driver requires immediate police attention. Even a slight fender bender due to impairment is a cause for police intervention. This is because the drunk driver may be guilty of multiple drunk driving offenses, the driver is a danger to the public, and the penalties for drunk driving far exceed the minor offense of causing a minor accident. By calling the police when dealing with a drunk driver, victims will be helping to protect others from this irresponsible driver.
Document the Scene
Having documentation about various aspects of the accident scene is crucial when taking a case to court. The location, time, and even the weather are important pieces of information. Taking pictures of the positioning of the vehicles, the intersections, lights, and traffic signs will all help to build a strong case against the drunk driver. Having an attorney that knows what information and details will pertain to the case is very important. Hiring an attorney as soon as possible will allow the victim and their family to focus on recovery while the attorney builds a strong case.
Ensure the Driver’s Condition is Documented
When a drunk driver hits another person or their property, there are far more legal implications than there would be if the driver was not under the influence. Once the police arrive on the scene, it is important to make sure that they not only test the driver’s BAC but also take necessary actions and note the BAC in any reports they produce. This paper trail and proof of intoxication will go a long way for a victim seeking compensation.
The Importance of Hiring an Attorney
Though the task of taking someone to court may seem daunting, it is important for victims to remember that they are entitled to seek justice and receive compensation for any harm that has come from a drunk driver. Furthermore, the legal process doesn’t have to be a difficult or upsetting experience. By hiring the right attorney from the start, victims will have someone fighting for them, so they do not have to deal with legal issues on their own. The compensation awarded to victims can help them to start rebuilding their lives and heal after a tragic situation, and nothing should stand in the way of that.
Don’t Talk to the Driver’s Representatives
The drunk driver is likely to have an insurance company as well as a lawyer that will fight to minimize the penalties their client faces. These people do not have the victim’s interests in mind, even though they will likely claim to. Their job is to avoid paying compensation and to keep their client out of serious trouble. Victims should never speak to any representatives for the drunk driver or sign anything from a lawyer or insurance company. Instead, victims should hire an attorney to handle these matters.
Many victims make the mistake of thinking they are not entitled to compensation or they may believe their compensation is limited to medical bills or payment for property damage. Some victims may even feel embarrassed to seek further damages. It is important to remember that the victim is not to blame for a drunk driving accident. The irresponsible person behind the wheel is. The drunk driver should be made to pay for any physical or emotional damage caused by the accident. Many victims do not realize how much they are entitled to, so hiring an attorney to help explain what they are owed can mean the difference between dealing with medical bills alone and being paid for all the difficulties that result from an accident.
Ensure the Drunk Driver is Penalized
Other legal actions fall under administrative or criminal action, which is quite different from the civil action of filing a personal injury suit. Seeking justice for damages caused by a drunk driver goes far beyond monetary compensation. For victims who were seriously injured by a drunk driver and the families of victims who lost their lives to a drunk driver, seeing the driver face legal action is important. Things like loss of their license, community service, and even jail time are penalties that are often handed down to drunk drivers. The sense of vindication that comes from seeing a drunk driver be penalized is something all victims should feel.
Finding an Attorney for a Drunk Driving Accident Case
To find the right attorney, victims and their families will have to ask the right questions, answer questions from the attorney, and work hard to find a knowledgeable attorney they trust. By following a few easy steps, finding a personal injury lawyer to file a suit against a drunk driver does not have to be difficult.
Ask the Right Questions
There are a few important questions that should be asked of any potential attorney. These questions can help to get an idea of the attorney’s experience and determine if the attorney if the right person for the job. Feeling secure with the attorney leading the charge will make every aspect of a legal battle much less difficult for victims.
- Have you handled cases like this before?
- What type of compensation should be sought?
- Are you familiar with the state laws regarding DUI accidents?
- How much time can you dedicate to my case?
Answer All Questions Honestly
Attorneys should have a series of questions they will need to have answered by their potential clients. Details of the case and client expectations are just a couple of the areas attorneys will want to know more about. Answering these questions honestly and to the best of the victim’s ability is essential when deciding on a personal injury attorney.