Every year thousands of people are killed by drunk drivers in car crashes. According to the CDC, in 2014, nearly 10,000 people lost their lives in crashes with impaired drivers. If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash because of a driver who was intoxicated, you can bring file a civil lawsuit in order to hold that driver liable for his or her negligent and dangerous actions.
This section will discuss some of the things to consider when bringing a legal case against an impaired driver.
- Actions Against An Impaired Driver: People who choose to drive under the influence of alcohol endanger themselves as well as everyone on the road.
- Actions Against Drivers Under The Influence Of Marijuana: Recreational marijuana is now legal in Colorado, however, those who choose to partake in this drug must make responsible choices and not choose to get behind the wheel while impaired.
- Claims For Drunk Driver Accidents: The process of dealing with insurance companies and filing a civil lawsuit can be complicated.
- Resources For Victims Of Drunk Driving Accidents: Being the victim of a drunk driving accident can be devastating for you and your loved ones.
Driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol is an act that is prohibited in every state in the country. Despite knowledge of the obvious stigma attached to this phenomenon and society's overall negative outlook on drunken and “drugged” drivers, some individuals still choose to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle while impaired with the inclination that they won't get caught or hurt anyone. This assumption couldn't be further from the truth.
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, 605 people died while driving on Colorado's roadways last year. Local authorities estimate that of these fatalities, 196 were caused by the influence of alcohol and drugs on state drivers. The department also compiled statistics concluding that an average of 26,000 Colorado residents are apprehended for DUIs every year - an alarmingly high number and a testament to the massive issue with impaired driving that not only plagues Colorado but the entire country.
Impaired Driver Accidents in Colorado
In accidents involving impaired drivers, it is possible for each party to sustain a serious bodily injury or even death. When most people think about the issuing of a DUI, they most often associate it with alcohol impairment, but this criminal charge is not limited to the consumption of alcohol. As time progresses, law enforcement officials across the country find themselves arresting drivers who got behind the wheel while under the influence of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, marijuana, illegal substances, and any of these drugs in combination with alcohol.
Studies indicate that impaired drivers are more likely to be in collisions than drivers operating a vehicle while sober. Similar to other states in the nation, Colorado has enforced legal limits on the amount of alcohol and drugs found in an individual's system while driving a vehicle. Although there is no uniform definition describing what it means to be impaired by drugs or alcohol while driving, there is an overall understanding that impaired drivers exhibit specific qualities.
Alcohol, which is considered a depressant, slows the functions of the central nervous system. This causes brain function to significantly delay, which, in turn, prevents those who consume it from performing in the way that they would if they were sober. Its effect on a person's cognitive and psychomotor skills depends on how much alcohol is consumed. When an individual drinks too much alcohol and gets behind the wheel of their car, the skills that are needed to drive safely - like coordination, good judgment, reaction time and comprehension - become impaired.
The consumption of some drugs may also cause drivers to have a similar reaction to alcohol when driving. Except driving while under the influence of drugs is known as drugged driving. Crucial attributes that are required to drive safely, like memory, motor skills, good judgment, and a driver's sense of depth perception may also be affected when drugs are used while operating a vehicle.
Colorado Impaired Driver Accident Claims
When a collision is caused by an impaired driver and another party is injured or killed, it creates a whole set of challenges that may limit a victim's legal options. Typically, in a regular Colorado vehicle accident claim, an injured person has the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit immediately after an accident occurs. However, since driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is a criminal offense, there are a few matters for a victim to consider.
Firstly, the option to pursue legal recourse is still on the table even if an impaired at-fault driver has been arrested and charged with a DUI, but victims may have to wait until a criminal case has run its course before their case is taken to court. Criminal cases can take a long time to be dissolved depending on the nature of a case. This length can be exacerbated when a defendant decides to fight the charges and take a case to trial. No matter what a judge or jury decides, chances are that the defendant may have spent large sums of money on a lawyer. This could limit the resources that are available to compensate a victim.
In the state of Colorado, car accident victims have the option of receiving compensation via the impaired driver's liability insurance coverage or through the pursuit of legal compensation. Most people decide to take the legal route when insurance companies refute a claim and only offer to pay a portion of the damages that are owed to a victim. When victims decide to seek compensation through the courts, they are eligible for recovering either economic damages and/or non-economic damages in the aftermath of an accident.
Economic damages refer to losses that can be attributed to financial sacrifices. Many accidents typically accrue property damages. But in more serious accidents where injuries that need constant medical attention are sustained, injury-related damages may add up relatively quickly. Some examples of economic damages that may be recovered are (but not limited to):
- Medical expenses and hospital fees
- Diminished earning capacity
- Loss of wages
- Vehicle and property damage
Non-economic damages pertain to intangible losses a victim suffered as a result of their injuries. These types of damages are especially difficult in court due to the fact that it may difficult to prove that a person's psychological and emotional state has been damaged. However, it is possible. Some examples of non-economic damages are (but not limited to):
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
Unfortunately, collisions caused by impaired drivers may end up claiming the lives of others involved. If you have lost a loved one because of these circumstances, a wrongful death lawsuit may allow surviving family members to recover the costs associated with funeral and burial costs. Although it won't bring back your loved one, wrongful death claims hold the perpetrator accountable for their reckless actions.
Experienced Colorado Car Accident Attorneys
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident with an impaired driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Let the attorneys at the law firm of Jeremy Rosenthal handle the legal obligations while you recover from your injuries. Contact us today for a consultation.