Driving while drunk is illegal throughout the US. Nonetheless, many people still get behind the wheel of a vehicle while intoxicated and put lives at risk. Driving under the influence (DUI) affects a person’s reflexes and judgment, making them a reckless danger to everyone on the road.
When you or someone you care for is injured because someone committed DUI, contact an experienced Oakville drunk driver accident lawyer from the law offices of Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC. Our thorough knowledge of Tennessee law gives you the support you need to seek justice when a drunk driver has caused you suffering.
Drunk Driving Is Always Dangerous
Drunk drivers are a hazard to everyone and everything they encounter. They may simply crash their car into a light pole, or they can kill pedestrians. In the latest reporting year, nearly 12,000 people were killed in accidents where the driver was impaired by alcohol.
Alcohol reduces a person’s ability to reason and think clearly. It also slows reaction time and coordination, so drivers are less likely to see and respond to changes on the road. Because alcohol consumption is legal and socially acceptable, people mistakenly feel they are “ok to drive” when even one drink can affect their driving ability.
For a free legal consultation with a drunk driver accidents lawyer serving Oakville, call (901) 526-2126
Defining Liability in Drunk Driving Accidents
In drunk driving cases, there is always blame on the part of the person who chooses to drive after consuming alcohol. Making this choice renders their actions criminal and liable for facing punishment by the state and paying restitution to victims in civil court. Even if a pedestrian is on the highway or another driver breaks the law, the drunk driver should always be held responsible for their dangerous behavior.
In addition to the driver, any establishment that serves them alcohol can be held liable. Any bar, restaurant, or host of an event has a responsibility to stop serving anyone who becomes intoxicated. They must take measures to prevent overserving a person who may choose to drive or the establishment could face legal repercussions.
Oakville Drunk Driver Accident Lawyer Near Me (901) 526-2126
Dram Shop Laws in Tennessee
Tennessee allows victims to file dram shop claims against anyone who sells alcohol to a drunk driver who then causes an accident. The law states that drunk driver victims may sue the merchant if they served a person who was visibly inebriated or under the legal drinking age. To successfully apply this law, your attorney must demonstrate that your injuries were directly caused by the driver imbibing alcohol.
This is not as simple as it may appear and requires the help of a qualified drunk driver accident lawyer in Oakville.
Civil Claims and Criminal Charges Against Drunk Drivers
When someone is arrested for drunk driving, the state will ensure they face justice for their actions. Their punishment usually includes fines, incarceration, and limiting their legal ability to drive. While this makes them pay their debt to society, it does not mean their victims receive restitution.
To win compensation for injuries and suffering, you must file a civil case against those responsible.
While the statute of limitations to file a civil suit in Tennesee is only one year from the date of the accident, there are exceptions when the defendant is involved in a criminal case. You and your drunk driver accident attorney in Oakville can ask for an extension until the criminal case is completed, giving you more time to gather evidence and build your case.
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Compensation Available in Drunk Driving Accident Claims
With a short filing window of one year, it is critical to begin filing a drunk driving accident claim as soon as possible. Gathering evidence and developing a solid case on your behalf takes time and experience. This process can be confusing for a victim trying to heal from their injuries over the weeks and months following an accident.
Relying on an experienced Oakville drunk driver accident attorney and their professional team can guarantee that every aspect of the situation is investigated for your benefit. Presenting a complete list of the damages you suffered is key to securing the financial compensation you need to recover. Injuries can affect you for years afterward and should be accounted for during your claim.
Maintaining a folder for receipts and bills and a pain journal for your suffering will help your lawyer accurately calculate the harm you have been caused. You can seek two main types of damages: economic and non-economic.
Economic vs. Non-Economic Damages
Economic damages, like hospital bills, usually have a specific dollar amount attached to them. Non-economic damages are assessments of emotional and physical suffering you experience. Commonly requested damages are:
- Psychological and physical therapy
- Loss of society
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
- Travel costs, including emergency transportation
- Hospital bills, such as ER, ICU, and surgeries
- Medical devices
- Pain and suffering
- Lost income
- Loss of earning potential
- Loss of inheritance potential for your family
When a drunk driver has caused especially terrible injury or death, the plaintiff may request punitive damages. The court may also decide to award these at their discretion. Punitive damages are intended to severely punish a defendant and serve as a warning to others.
These awards are given in addition to other damages you receive.
Damages and Comparative Fault in Tennessee
If you win your case against the drunk driver who hurt you in Tennessee, you will usually be awarded the entirety of the economic damages. Non-economic damages are capped at $750,000, except in cases of catastrophic injury or death. For these instances, the limit is $1 million.
In a case where the plaintiff contributed to the accident, you will be subject to Tennessee’s modified comparative fault system. This means your compensation will be reduced by the same amount you are found at fault. For example, if the judge finds you 20% responsible, your award will be reduced by 20%. No damages are awarded if you are deemed 50% or more to blame.
Get Help from an Oakville Drunk Driver Accident Attorney Now
Drunk drivers choose to commit a crime and often cause severe harm as a result. Their insurance companies know the driver is to blame. Despite this, they will try to convince you to accept a settlement offer well below what you need to recover properly. Taking a settlement too soon could mean you lose out on fair compensation that could be gained from a civil suit.
For the best hope of winning the justice you deserve, contact the law offices of Gatti, Keltner, Bievenu & Montesi PLC, and speak to a drunk driver accident attorney in Oakville. We work diligently to negotiate the financial outcome you and your family need to be at peace. Contact us today with our convenient online form to schedule your free consultation.