Every 51 minutes, someone in the U.S. is killed by a drunk driver. Despite tough state laws and national public campaigns to raise awareness about the dangers of drunk driving, drunk driving car accidents are still happening at an alarming rate. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving-related fatalities account for 31% of all fatal car accidents in the United States.

Driving while intoxicated is a reckless and negligent act that demonstrates a complete lack of regard for the safety of others. In addition to the loss of life, drunk driving causes accidents that lead to property damage, injuries and arrests that cost the American public more than $71.6 billion every year. More than the financial costs, victims of drunk driving accidents and their families suffer devastating personal losses from these tragic and entirely preventable accidents.

Though no amount of financial compensation can bring back a loved one or make someone who has suffered a catastrophic injury whole again, a lawsuit can help to bring victims piece of mind that the responsible party will be held accountable for their actions. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a drunk driving car accident, an experienced lawyer can help you get the justice you deserve and the compensation you need to pay for the many expenses resulting from a drunk driving accident.

Driver Liability

A driver who is found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or above can be held liable if they cause an accident that results in injury or death. However, a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) is not limited to alcohol consumption. Any substance that reduces a driver’s reaction time or ability to focus on the task of driving causes a risk to everyone on the road. A driver under the influence of any mind-altering substance, including marijuana and other illegal drugs, as well as some prescription or over-the-counter drugs, can also be held liable for damages they cause in an accident.

Third Party Liability

Restaurants, bars, and liquor stores have a duty to serve responsibly. Thirty states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania, have statues that place liability on these and other licensed establishments. Under the Dram Shop Act, businesses that sell or serve alcoholic beverages to minors or individuals who are obviously intoxicated can be held liable for injuries or deaths caused by that person.

Many states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania, also impose liability to a social host if a party guest is involved in a drunk driving accident that causes injuries or fatalities. These statutes apply to hosts who serve alcohol, or make alcohol available to minors, and to hosts that provide alcohol to guests that are visibly intoxicated. It is important to note that New Jersey courts have extended the definition of “provide” to include self-service by guests.

Compensable Damages

Individuals and families harmed by the reckless actions of another are entitled to pursue compensation for their losses. By filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, victims can recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages (including future lost wages), emotional distress, pain and suffering, funeral expenses and loss of companionship.