No one can dispute that drunk driving is irresponsible and dangerous behavior. Drunk drivers cause thousands of accidents annually across Las Vegas, many of them fatal. Alcohol-impaired driving also causes the majority of fatal car accidents throughout the U.S. Many drunk driving accidents happen in Las Vegas because the city is an entertainment and party town. The city receives countless tourists every year. Therefore, the roads are often busy, increasing the risk of accidents. Some car accidents involve drunk drivers crashing into other vehicles on the roadway, while other accidents are single-car accidents whereby a drunk driver loses control and rolls. Drunk driving is typical in Nevada despite the ongoing efforts to curb drunk driving. If you are involved in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, the Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm will do everything possible to help you seek the compensation you deserve.
Impaired driving or driving under the influence refers to operating a motor vehicle while drunk. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), alcohol-related accidents are the leading cause of death in Las Vegas. In addition, thousands of motorists are charged each year for drunk driving.
Drunk driving is a severe public health and traffic safety issue. Alcohol reduces the function of the brain, impairing reasoning, thinking, and muscle coordination. As alcohol levels increase in a driver's system, the negative effect on the central nervous system increases. Even a small amount of alcohol can affect a motorist's driving ability.
A larger percentage of men drive while drunk compared to women. If a motorist causes a car accident because of drunk driving, the car insurance could automatically be declared invalid. The driver could also be liable for the damages depending on their degree of negligence. In the United States, a citation for drunk driving could also increase car insurance premiums.
Injuries In A Drunk Driving Car Accident
It is common for victims to suffer extensive and severe injuries in a drunk driving car accident. The injuries can have a lasting impact on your life. For example, the loss or disfigurement of your limb or a permanent disability could alter your life forever. In addition, after the accident, you will have memories of the fateful day you suffered your injuries, often leading to trauma and hallucinations. The injuries you suffer in a drunk driving car accident could be fatal or even life-threatening. The most common injuries in a drunk driving car accident include:
- Broken or fractured bones
- Traumatic brain injuries, head wounds, and concussions
- Soft tissue injuries like sprains, twists, and strained muscles
- Injuries to the spine, neck, and back
- Serious internal injuries like injured organs or internal hemorrhaging
- Psychological trauma like post-traumatic stress disorder
- Amputated or crushed limbs
- Chemical burns to the face, chest, and lungs
Broken or Fractured Bones
In a drunk driving car accident, you could experience a hard landing where you can suffer shoulder injuries and torn rotator cuffs. Broken fingers, elbows, and arms are also common. Legs, knees, ankles, calves, and feet are other vulnerable parts that could sustain injuries. Often, you could suffer upper extremity injuries because of using your arms to shield yourself.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
When a drunk driver hits you, you could suffer severe head trauma if you knock your head on a hard surface like a stone, pavement, or vehicle side. Knocking your head on a hard surface unexpectedly can cause a traumatic brain injury leading to brain swelling or intracerebral hemorrhage. For example, if you suffer a brain injury in a car accident, you could experience the following symptoms:
- Loss of coordination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pupil dilation
After suffering a traumatic brain injury, you could experience cognitive changes and have problems with memory, learning, recognition, and other cognitive functions. You could also experience neurological problems like speech, vision, and hearing problems.
Soft Tissue Injuries
It is common for an accident victim to suffer sprains. In a drunk driving car accident, you could also suffer torn tendons and ligaments. In addition, when a drunk driver hits your vehicle, you could be dragged along the road and, in the process, suffer road rash.
Spinal injury is one of the most severe injuries you could suffer when a drunk driver hits your vehicle. If the drunk driver hits your car from the back or on the side, you can suffer severe damage to the spine that could lead to total or partial paralysis. A minor injury to the spine could lead to life-long problems. It often requires life-long treatment and physical therapy.
You could suffer disfigurement and permanent scarring if you are involved in a drunk driving car accident and do not have protective clothing. This could happen because of contact with the roadway or from lacerations. Drunk driving car accidents can even lead to loss of limbs.
Injuries To Internal Organs
Victims of car accidents could suffer internal organ damage. Internal bleeding is also common in a car accident and can be fatal if not treated immediately. Internal bleeding is dangerous and needs prompt diagnosis since it is not visible. If you are involved in a car accident, you should seek immediate treatment even if you feel okay. Immediately after an accident, the body is often numb, so the victim does not experience pain or discomfort. The pain sets in when the numbness wears off -it's always good to have a doctor rule out internal injuries.
The Damages Available In A Drunk Driving Car Accident
If a drunk driver caused damage to your vehicle, property, or physical injury to you, Nevada law allows you to be fully compensated for the damages you suffered. These include:
- Wrongful death
- Medical expenses
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of income
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
If your quality of life or long-term health has been impacted, you should pursue the damages that match the impacts. Generally, Las Vegas courts deem drunk driving as exceeding the scope of ordinary negligence; therefore, the civil punishment for it can be substantial.
Wrongful Death Claim
Essentially, a wrongful death claim is a personal injury claim filed for the victim who did not survive a drunk driving car accident. However, Nevada laws limit who can file wrongful death claims and the damages available. When a drunk driving accident leads to a fatality, the personal representative of the victim's estate or a family member is allowed by the law to file a wrongful death claim instead of a personal injury claim.
Car accident cases involving drunk drivers can be more complicated if the victim dies. If you lose your loved one in a drunk driving car accident, you need a legal representative to fight for your rights while you go through the grieving period. A drunk driving car accident lawsuit cannot bring your loved one back to life. However, it can provide you and your family with financial support to go through a tough time. In a wrongful death lawsuit, you could claim damages like funeral expenses, medical expenses for the deceased, and the deceased's lost wages, among other non-economic damages.
The court imposes a time limit called the ''statute of limitations'' on filing wrongful death claims. A wrongful death claim must be filed within two years from the date of the victim's death. The surviving family or the personal representative of the deceased person's estate will lose the right to file the lawsuit if they fail to do so within the two years.
If the plaintiff is a minor, the limitation period will be tolled. Under the law, being under 18 years is regarded as a ''legal disability''; therefore, the state will stop the time from accruing until the plaintiff attains 18 years. This will give more time to the children or relatives of the victim who dies through a drunk driving accident to file lawsuits.
Perhaps you have no money to meet the medical treatment required after a drunk driving car accident. After all, even a minor injury could be expensive to treat. The drunk driver who hit you and possibly their insurance company is liable for your medical expenses.
Sometimes, you have to pay for the initial treatment from your pocket and seek a reimbursement when you file a car accident claim. Many victims who sustain injuries in car accidents in Las Vegas often use a combination of their health insurance and liens to meet the required medical treatment before receiving compensation. As a result, you will receive the treatment you need, including surgeries, without having to dig deeper into your pocket.
Loss Of Consortium
A loss of consortium claim is often a standalone claim filed by a family member or spouse of the victim who got injured or killed in a drunk driving car accident. The driver is made to pay for their conduct since the victim cannot provide their spouse or family with the same affection, love, comfort, and companionship he/she provided before the accident. Generally, a loss of consortium claim is not awarded in Las Vegas unless the victim of the drunk driving car accident suffers severe, long-lasting, or permanent injury or dies.
Loss of consortium claim is categorized under non-economic or general damages for which money is only a rough substitute. It is a claim left to the discretion of the judge or jury since it is hard to quantify. You require a legal expert to provide precise guidance on the monetary value of a loss of consortium claim.
An insurance policy or your state’s laws could limit your loss of consortium lawsuit. For instance, some states in the U.S demand that you prove that a marriage existed to file a claim for loss of consortium. If you divorced before the trial, the amount you ought to receive would be negatively affected. Liability policies regarding insurance include ''single injury'' limitations. There is a cap on the money covered by the insurance provider per accident, and the loss of consortium claim could be treated as a separate claim for purposes of the policy.
Loss Of Income
This damage refers to the loss of wages or the employee benefits you lost because of the injury you suffered in a drunk driving car accident. For instance, if you were rendered unable to work for one week because of the accident, you would suffer lost income for that week. Loss of income could include commissions from sales, bonuses, wages from work, and other benefits.
If you sue the drunk driver for loss of income, you need to provide evidence of the amount of your lost income with reasonable certainty. If the drunk driver is found liable for your injuries and the resulting loss of income, he/she could be required to compensate you for damages that the judge recognizes.
Lost Earning Capacity
This damage refers to the tangible decrease in a person’s ability to earn income. It could also mean the following:
- Impairment of earning power
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Loss of future earnings
You could suffer a permanent physical injury because of the drunk driver's actions. In addition, the injury could impair your ability to work in the future, especially if your job involves activities like heavy lifting. With the help of your injury attorney, you can file a claim against the drunk driver to seek compensation for your inability to work.
Steps To Take After An Involvement In A Drunk Driving Car Accident In Las Vegas
Dealing with a car wreck can be extremely challenging, especially if you are seriously injured. However, you must avoid panic and take the proper steps. Some of the appropriate steps include:
Calling The Police
After your involvement in a drunk driving car accident, call the police right away if they are not at the scene. Ask someone else to do it for you if you are seriously injured. The police will make a good report necessary when you file a claim against a drunk driver.
Ensure Your Physical Safety
Move aside from the scene of an accident to avoid suffering additional injuries. If possible, try to take a couple of photographs to record what happened during the accident.
Make Sure Everyone Else Is Safe
Check on the condition of other people involved in the accident once you have ensured your safety. Drivers of other cars, passengers, pedestrians, and others who could be involved in the drunk driving car accident.
Seek Medical Treatment
Your health should be your top priority if a drunk driver injures you. At times, the extent and the nature of the injuries you suffer in a car crash are not apparent. Your injuries, combined with the disorientation and confusion that often follows an accident, can make it hard to determine if you require treatment. However, you must see a medical professional after a drunk driving car accident as soon as possible. Your injuries could be much more severe than they initially appear. If you have not yet seen a doctor several days since the accident, you must consider seeking medication. Allowing a medical expert to diagnose your injuries will help you know your injury's extent and ensure you receive the emergency medical care you require.
Contact Your Attorney
After your involvement in a drunk driving accident, you should file a claim against the drunk driver. However, before you take that step, you should speak to an attorney who can review the facts of the accident. The attorney will explain and help you understand liability law. You should talk to your attorney before the drunk driver's insurance company contacts you.
Insurance companies could jeopardize your car accident claim. They will ask you questions about the accident to try to incriminate you. You need to know how to answer or have your attorney discuss the details of the accident with the insurance company.
Contact Your Insurance Company
If your car suffers damage in a drunk driving accident, you should contact your insurance company to notify them about the accident. Your insurance provider will need information like the accident's location, time, and date. The insurance will also inquire about other people involved in the accident. They will also need information about the police that came to the scene to make a report so that the company can obtain a copy of the report.
Apart from obtaining a police report, you need to gather additional proof at the scene of the accident. The drunk driver could deny fault. Therefore gathering evidence could help you prove what happened and receive your deserved compensation for your injuries and damages.
Proving Negligence In A Car Accident Caused By A Drunk Driver
When you file a lawsuit against a drunk driver, you follow similar steps to pursuing legal action in any other personal injury claim. You must provide sufficient evidence that the drunk driver was under the influence of alcohol, the driver was negligent and is directly liable for the accident in question and related damages. You must prove the elements of negligence to succeed with your lawsuit against the drunk driver.
However, you cannot make it alone in a case of this kind. You need to hire a competent attorney with experience in personal injury cases:
- Your attorney must provide sufficient evidence showing the drunk driver's duty of care. Typically, in a drunk driving case, this shows that the drunk driver was directly involved in the alleged car accident.
- Your attorney must provide substantial evidence that the drunk driver breached the duty of care by driving under the influence of alcohol. Your attorney will refer to the police officer's report, and physical evidence gathered from the accident scene to prove breach of duty.
- Your attorney must also provide evidence that you suffered actual harm or tangible damages from the drunk driver’s breach of duty. He/she must also prove the extent of the claimed damages.
- Your attorney must also provide evidence that the damages you suffered would not have occurred if it was not for the drunk driver’s conduct of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
In Las Vegas, a civil case can go hand in hand with a criminal case against a drunk driver. Your attorney will refer to the proof used in the criminal lawsuit in the civil lawsuit.
Benefits Of Hiring Experienced Las Vegas Drunk Driving Car Accident Attorney
Hiring an attorney with experience in a car accident caused by a negligent drunk driver has many benefits in Las Vegas. Often, pursuing a drunk driver personally for the damages that he/she owes you could be hard. Your attorney will look into filing a claim with your insurance company and the drunk driver's company. Your insurance provider can pay part of your accident claim, although the company could fight you for it. Your attorney will work with your insurance company and the driver's company for you to receive your deserved compensation available under your policy.
When you seek the services of an experienced attorney, you will never have to wonder what comes next. He/she will guide you through the process of pursuing a claim while advising you of possible practices or problems to avoid as your case is being worked on or reviewed. Your attorney will also answer any questions you could have regarding the different legal processes involved in your case. Most experienced attorneys in Las Vegas do not charge you any fee until you receive your compensation, which means you can enjoy their services no matter your financial situation.
Find A Car Accident Attorney Near Me
If a drunk driver injures you or a loved one, you need a competent personal injury attorney to walk with you. It takes time to gather all necessary proof of causation and injury and develop a case. The sooner you schedule a consultation at Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm, the closer you will be to justice. Call us at 702-576-0010 and talk to one of our attorneys.