DUI Accidents

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We are often asked by our Georgia auto accident clients what difference it makes to their case that the other driver was under the influence of alcohol when the collision occurred.  To answer that question, one might ask another . . . What difference does Vodka make to a glass of orange juice?  It changes the drink completely!  Drunk driving was tolerated, and even excused, in past decades.  This is certainly untrue today.  A drunk or impaired Georgia driver who injures another can expect to pay a large premium for this behavior, if the case is handled by an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer.

One consequence that comes immediately to mind is punitive damages.  Georgia drunk drivers who cause injury to others are subject to punitive damages to punish them for their wrongful actions, and (more importantly) to deter them from driving impaired in the future.  Most claims for punitive damages in Georgia have a maximum allowable recovery of $250,000.00.  However, this is not true of punitive damages claims against Atlanta drivers impaired by illegal drugs or alcohol.  Punitive damage claims against drunk or impaired drivers in this state are not subject to any monetary limitation.  The jury hears the facts and decides what amount will be necessary to punish the impaired and to ensure that his or her actions will never be repeated.  Unlike other injury claims, even conservative jurors will make high awards for these cases because they recognize that, by doing so, they are helping make their own metro-Atlanta neighborhoods and communities safer.

However, punitive damages are not the only way that Marietta auto accident victims can maximize recovery in these cases.  If the circumstances of the negligent driver’s alcohol consumption are properly presented to the jury (or to the driver’s insurance carrier during settlement discussions), the value of the underlying injury claim is often significantly enhanced.  This is not the result of a special law for valuing injury claims caused by drunk drivers.  It’s human nature.  Jurors tend to place a premium on injuries caused by impaired drivers even when the issue of punitive damages is not being discussed.  It is imperative that Atlanta injury lawyers handling these drunk driving cases understand how to value the underlying damages claim when alcohol or illegal drugs are an issue in the case.  Failing to do so can result in settlements or verdicts that grossly undervalue these claims.

Our Atlanta injury firm looks carefully into every aspect of alcohol or illegal drug consumption connected in any way to our clients’ injuries.  This includes obtaining a full driving and arrest history of the negligent driver, a check of the driver’s personal financial assets in order to properly value the punitive damage claim, and tracking down the source of the alcohol in order to determine if any other person or business may also be liable.  If you or someone you know has been injured or killed by a drunk or impaired driver, please contact our office to discuss the matter with one of our experienced DUI lawyers or we would be pleased to schedule a meeting to meet with you personally.

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