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Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Serving Clients in Toledo, OH
Getting into your vehicle and driving to work or heading out to a restaurant in Toledo should not put you or a family member at risk of being involved in a serious or fatal car accident resulting from drunk driving. However, personal injuries and serious auto accidents caused by driving under the influence of alcohol happen in Ohio more frequently than most of us would like to imagine. When these accidents do happen, it is extremely important to speak with a drunk driving accident lawyer in Toledo to learn more about filing a claim for compensation.
For a free legal consultation with a drunk driving lawyer serving Toledo, call (419) 930-3030
Learning More About Drunk Driving and Ohio Law
What does the law in Ohio have to say about drinking and driving? When it comes to criminal charges, operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal under Section 4511.19 of the Ohio Code. However, if you were injured by a drunk driver, then you will want to look instead to Section 2305.10 of the Ohio Code, which governs civil lawsuits based on bodily injury or injury to your personal property. Specifically, this law allows an “action for bodily injury.” In brief, this type of law permits someone who was injured because of another party’s negligence or bad behavior—such as driving under the influence of alcohol—to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for his or her losses.
It is important to recognize that personal injury lawsuits have a statute of limitations. This means that you will need to file your lawsuit within a specific time period after the accident in order to be eligible for damages. In drunk driving accident lawsuits, the statute of limitations is governed by Section 2305.11 of the Ohio Code. Under the law, you must file your lawsuit within two years from the date of the drunk driving accident that caused your injuries.
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Drunk Driving Facts and Figures
How big of a problem is drunk driving in Toledo, and how often does it result in serious accidents and injuries? According to a fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following statistics highlight the serious problem of driving under the influence in Ohio and across the country:
- Nearly 10,000 fatalities resulted from alcohol-impaired accidents in 2010;
- In total, drunk driving accidents are responsible for nearly one-third (31 percent) of all traffic fatalities reported in the U.S.;
- About 20 percent of fatal accidents involving children are caused by alcohol impairment;
- Approximately 50 percent of all alcohol-related accidents in which children suffer fatal injuries involve a situation in which the child was a passenger in the drunk driver’s car; and
- Only about one percent of all drunk drivers are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs each year based on self-reported incidents of drunk driving.
Are some people at greater risk than others of being involved in a serious alcohol-related accident? The CDC identifies the following groups as being at the most risk of suffering serious injuries in a drunk driving collision:
- Young drivers and passengers: approximately 30 percent of drunk drivers involved in accidents are between the ages of 21 and 24, while nearly the same percentage of drivers responsible for alcohol-involved crashes are between the ages of 25 and 34;
- Motorcyclists: given that motorcyclists have less protection than automobile drivers and passengers, they tend to sustain more serious injuries in crashes, including those in which alcohol is a factor;
- Vehicle operators who have previous convictions for driving under the influence: according to the CDC, alcohol-impaired drivers who cause fatal crashes are “seven times more likely to have a prior conviction for DWI than were drivers with no alcohol in their system.”
Preventing Toledo Impaired Driving Accidents
What can we do to help prevent alcohol-related car accidents? The impetus for prevention is on both law enforcement officials and individuals, according to the CDC fact sheet. In general, the CDC recommends some of the following for individuals to prevent impaired driving:
- Assign a designated driver if you are planning an outing with a group that will involve alcohol consumption;
- Do not allow friends to drive if they are intoxicated;
- If you have been drinking and cannot drive, call a taxi (or an Uber or a Lyft) to take you home; and
- Do not allow guests to drive away from a party at your home if they have consumed alcohol and are impaired.
What can law enforcement officials do? The CDC suggests some of the following:
- Enforcing drunk driving laws, or OVI laws;
- Maintaining a “zero tolerance” policy for underage drivers who have been drinking;
- Mandating that OVI offenders install ignition interlocks, even if they are first-time offenders;
- Regularly implement sobriety checkpoints; and
- Engage in community awareness efforts to prevent drunk driving.
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Damages in Drunk Driving Accident Cases
What types of damages can you be eligible to receive when you file a drunk driving accident claim in Toledo? Generally speaking, plaintiffs may be eligible to receive compensatory damages. This type of damage award aims to compensate plaintiffs who have gotten hurt because of another driver’s negligent behavior or wrongful behavior. Compensatory damages can be both economic damages (like those for medical bills or lost wages) and non-economic damages (like those for pain and suffering).
Depending upon the specific facts of your case, you also may be eligible for punitive damages. These damages are aimed at punishing the drunk driver and deterring harmful behavior in the future.
Drunk Driving Accident FAQs
How do I prove the driver who hit me was drunk?
Evidence is crucial to any personal injury case. Although you suffered terrible injuries in the crash, you need to show the driver who hit you didn’t use reasonable care while driving. And that requires evidence.
If the police arrested the driver, we can seek to use any breath, urine, or blood test results. These tests should show that the driver was drinking or using drugs before hitting you. We can also rely on any witness testimony. For example, the driver might have exited their vehicle while holding a joint, or their speech could be slurred. Intoxicated drivers often stumble around. This evidence helps show the driver was impaired.
Also, we might use witness testimony from those who saw the driver leave a bar or tavern. The sooner you contact our legal team, the easier it is for us to find helpful evidence.
Will the prosecutor file this lawsuit for me?
No. Prosecutors handle criminal charges. If you were injured in a crash, you should seek compensation in a civil lawsuit. It’s up to accident victims to file these lawsuits with the help of their own attorney.
The driver was acquitted of DUI—can I still sue for compensation?
Yes. Civil cases are different from criminal ones. The burden of proof is lower. We need to show that it is more likely than not that you suffered injuries because the driver failed to use reasonable care. That’s a lower standard than the rule in criminal cases.
Any civil case is independent of criminal charges. In fact, it’s possible to get compensation even if the driver beats the DUI charges or accepts a generous plea deal.
Do I have rights if the driver was high on drugs?
Yes. Drugged driving is also a clear example of failing to use reasonable care behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Even using prescription or over-the-counter drugs can make a driver careless. For example, certain cold medications cause drowsiness, and it would be negligent for a drowsy person to drive. You should meet with an attorney to discuss your accident. As more people use marijuana recreationally, we are seeing an uptick in drugged driving cases.
Can I sue a bar or tavern for serving the driver who hit me?
Yes. Ohio has a dram shop law which allows you to sue an establishment licensed to sell alcohol when the drunk person injures you. You can find the law at Ohio Revised Code Section 4399.18. Under this law, you can sue if the defendant knowingly sold alcohol to someone who was “noticeably intoxicated” or to someone under 21 and this person then injures you.
For example, a bar might refuse to stop serving an obvious drunk. This person is talking loudly, slurring their words, and reeks of alcohol. If the customer then gets behind the wheel of a car and hits you, then you can sue the bar under the dram shop law.
To bring this claim, the defendant must have had a license to serve alcohol. This means you can’t sue a grocery store for selling a 12 pack to someone.
What is social host liability? Can I sue a private person for providing alcohol?
This is another way to sue a third party for your drunk driving accident. A social host is someone who provides guests with alcohol, often at a party. They are not liable under the dram shop law because they don’t have a license to serve. However, if they provide alcohol to someone under 21, then they can be sued if the minor gets into a crash.
As an example, Jim might throw a high school graduation party for his daughter’s class. He provides alcohol to her classmates, one of whom drives home and crashes into an innocent person. The accident victim can sue Jim as a social host. However, social host liability doesn’t extend to providing alcohol to someone who is obviously drunk.
You must move quickly to sue under either the dram shop or social host liability. You get only two years.
Can I get punitive damages for a drunk driving accident?
It’s possible. Personal injury law allows victims to seek punitive damages as a way to punish someone. Driving while drunk is certainly much more blameworthy than simple carelessness. This is the type of gross negligence that punitive damages were designed to punish. Still, there are considerations, such as whether the driver’s insurer will cover punitive damages.
Contact an Experienced Toledo
Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Today
At Groth & Associates, we understand that the days and weeks after a drunk driving collision can be difficult times for thinking about a personal injury lawsuit. Indeed, when you or someone you love gets hurt in an accident caused by a drunk driver, it can be extremely upsetting and frustrating, not to mention physically painful. You may be dealing with surmounting hospital bills, the inability to work, and the likelihood of additional medical costs in the future.
Do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced Toledo drunk driving accident attorney to learn more about how we can help with your case. Contact us to learn more about our services.