Drunk driving is deadly. It’s a message we all know from decades of efforts to keep people from driving under the influence. DUI laws in North Carolina and across the country have grown increasingly harsh, and prosecutors aggressively seek convictions to punish those who engage in such irresponsible and reckless behavior. And yet, every day, American drivers still get behind the wheel after one – or five – too many drinks. And every day, in fact, every 52 minutes, a loved one doesn’t make it home, and whole families are left in shock because of a drunk driver.
Compensation, Accountability, and Justice for Drunk Driving Accident Victims
At the Ricci Law Firm, we understand the challenges and struggles, the pain and loss that follow a drunk driving crash that seriously injures or takes the life of an innocent victim. Our North Carolina drunk driving accident attorneys know that the long road to healing is often paved with astronomical medical bills, an inability to work, and the physical and emotional scars that linger long after smashed vehicles are towed away.
We passionately believe that those whose lives are upended by drunk drivers should not have to bear these burdens alone. Drunk driving accident victims and their families need all the help they can get and deserve justice and accountability from the irresponsible driver who caused them so much pain. That is why we fight tirelessly to obtain the maximum amount of compensation for those living with the fallout of a drunk driving accident. Our attorneys have nearly nine decades of combined experience and have secured millions of dollars in compensation for accident victims just like you.
Thousands Killed Each Year by Drunk Drivers
Drunk driving remains a tragic problem despite all efforts to stop it. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drunk motorists took the lives of 10,142 Americans in 2019 alone. That constitutes 28 percent of all motor vehicle accident deaths that year. The NHTSA also reports that almost 300,000 people suffer injuries in drunk driving crashes annually.
Here in North Carolina, 485 of the 1,437 motor vehicle fatalities in 2018 involved an intoxicated driver, making up 34 percent of all deaths on the road that year. None of those people deserved to die, and their loved ones should not have had to grieve them.
How Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuits Work
Drunk driving is an extreme type of negligence. Those who suffer injuries and the families of those killed by a drunk driver can hold them accountable and seek compensation in a personal injury lawsuit just as they could if they were involved in any other car accident.
The difference with drunk driving cases is that the intoxicated driver will likely also face serious criminal charges for driving under the influence, rather than just a traffic violation. How the driver’s criminal case proceeds can play a role in your civil personal injury lawsuit for compensation.
Your North Carolina drunk driving accident lawsuit can move forward simultaneously as prosecutors pursue a conviction against the drunk driver. In consultation with you, our drunk driving accident lawyers will make a strategic decision about when best to file your lawsuit. Sometimes, it makes more sense to wait until the criminal case concludes. If the driver is convicted of or pleads guilty to DUI, their criminal liability may help you establish the negligence, and thus civil liability, necessary to recover compensation for your injuries.
Under all circumstances, a drunk driving accident victim must file their lawsuit within three years of the crash or lose any right to seek compensation for their losses. This strict time limit and the consequences of waiting to pursue your claim are another reason to contact an experienced North Carolina drunk driving accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident.
What to Do if a Drunk Driver Hits You
In many ways, the steps you should take immediately after a drunk driving accident are the same as in any car crash. But given the driver’s likely mental state and the fact that a felony may be involved, victims should proceed with particular caution when taking the following steps.
Get Medical Attention
Your health and safety always come first after a car accident. Your first instinct may be to make sure everyone is okay. You may also have the urge to check if they need medical assistance before the paramedics arrive or even perform CPR. That being the case, an intoxicated driver may not even realize they are injured. They may not know they were in an accident at first until they see their car or see you walking toward them. If so, calmly explain what happened. If they need help but become violent, back away from them. It is a good idea to retreat to your vehicle until the danger passes.
Do not wait for the drunk driver to agree to call for medical assistance and first responders – just do it. You may have injuries and need medical attention. Look out for yourself first, especially when the other driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Inform First Responders What Happened and Avoid Admitting Fault
Move to the side of the road if your vehicle is still running. If your car does not run after the accident, get out of the vehicle if it is safe to do so. If it is not safe to move, let the dispatchers know when calling for assistance.
When first responders arrive, tell them what happened and what you know, but do not admit fault at any point in this step, or the police officers may include it in their notes. The insurance company will bring this up as a reason to deny your claim.
Collect Evidence of the Car Accident if It’s Safe to Do So
While waiting for first responders to arrive, gather as much evidence as you can, such as taking photos of the scene and vehicles and getting any witnesses’ names and contact information. Do not gather any evidence if it is not safe to do so after the accident. It is okay to let the police gather the evidence you need for a claim. This is especially true if you are in traffic and cannot move your vehicle to a safer position.
Contact an Experienced Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible
There are strict time limits for filing a drunk driving accident lawsuit. And the insurance companies involved in your claim, especially the drunk driver’s insurer, are not your “good neighbors” and are not “on your side.” They will try to deny your claim or offer you a settlement for far less than you deserve. That’s why you should never negotiate with an insurance company without first meeting with a lawyer.
Ricci Law Firm: Experienced and Committed North Carolina Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers
If you were hurt or lost a loved one at the hands of a drunk driver, Ricci Law Firm stands ready to help you through a difficult time. Please contact us today to arrange for your free initial drunk driving accident consultation.