Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys in Chicago
Drunk drivers pose one of the greatest dangers of the road when present. They put their lives at risk as well as everyone else’s on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost 30 people in the United States die in drunk driving crashes which amounts to more 10,000 lives per year. It also accounts for 28% of all traffic deaths in the United States. And yet, people still seem to do so. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics in 2010.
Clearly, drunk driving is a foolish decision that continues to take lives with every passing day. There are a few factors to consider in filing a lawsuit against a drunk driver, but we will help you so that you can be sure your rights are kept intact and you get justice for any damages that you had to endure as a result.
At Agruss Law Firm, LLC, we have helped thousands of clients to seek justice and compensation for personal injuries, and you won’t owe us a penny for our services unless we win your case. If you or a loved one has been injured in a drunk driver accident, contact our office today for a free consultation.
Illinois Drunk Driving Laws
A drunk driving accident can be physically and psychologically traumatizing. It is important to know the laws of the state regarding penalties and technicalities so that you can be confident about your rights and filing a lawsuit. In Illinois, non-commercial drivers are considered legally drunk when their blood alcohol level (BAC) is .08 or more, and commercial drivers are legally drunk at .04 or more. In cases where the driver is below 21 and thus not legally permitted to drink, they are considered legally drunk when their BAC is anything above zero. Driving under the influence of marijuana is also illegal when the amount of THC in the blood exceeds five nanograms. This could result in an arrest and criminal charges.
The penalties for driving under the influence are up to a year in prison and a possible $2,500 fine. The penalties increase as the BAC increases and the occurrence for any one individual continues. For instance, a person’s third violation within five years of prior one can be considered aggravated driving and is guilty of a class 2 felony, which carries a prison sentence of 3-7 years and up to $25,000 in fines. The sixth violation is a class X felony punishable by 6-30 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. An extra $1,000 fine is included when the drunk driver is with a child under 16. Later consequences can include suspension of a driver’s license or ineligibility to apply for a reinstated license after multiple violations.
Dram Shop Liability
Following a drunk driving accident where you were injured, you can take legal action against the individual themselves or the establishment that served them the alcohol that day. Generally, dram shop laws hold public establishments that serve alcohol liable for injuries caused by intoxicated individuals that were sold their alcohol. Illinois’s law, the Liquor Control Act, holds a commercial vendor liable for any damages caused by an intoxicated individual as long as certain conditions apply. The vendor cannot just be anyone, but it must be a licensed alcohol vendor. If you choose to take action against the dram shop, you must be able to show the following:
- The individual who caused the injury was intoxicated at the time the injury occurred – This can be proven with police reports showing BAC, witnesses, law enforcement officer testimony, and more.
- The vendor sold or gave alcohol to the intoxicated individual, who consumed it – This can be proven with video surveillance of the shop, receipts, or card statements.
- The alcohol consumed by the intoxicated individual caused their intoxication – This should also be visible or in the police report.
- The injuries resulted, at least in part, from the intoxication – This should be clear from the accident and medical records showing the injuries are new.
- As a result, the injured person suffered personal injuries or property damage – This can be proven by your medical records and proof of damages.
Damages That Can Be Recovered
Illinois is a comparative negligence state, meaning that the plaintiff can be found partially at fault after looking at the facts of the case. By partially, the law means that the plaintiff can be 20% liable while the defendant is 80% liable. The plaintiff can recover damages if their fault is below 50%, and the damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault.
After a drunk driving accident, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for personal injuries resulting from it, and five years for any property damage that it caused. In addition to these, there are several damages that a successful claim can help you to rightfully recover. Some common damages that you could recover include the following.
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Property damage
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death (in a wrongful death claim)
- Punitive damages
If you or a loved one has been injured in a drunk driving accident, contact our office today for a free consultation.
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