Despite significant efforts by federal, state, and local governments, drunk driving accidents still occur every day. These crashes can lead to severe injuries for both drivers and passengers, some of which are fatal. Injury victims and surviving family members of deceased victims may have claims for compensation against the drunk driver and other parties in some cases. Working with a Durham drunk driving accident lawyer may be an effective way to determine if you are eligible for compensation as a result of involvement in a drunk driving crash.
Our attorneys at Ben Crump Law, PLLC regularly handle car accident claims, including those involving drunk and drugged driving. We know just how devastating the aftermath of these accidents can be for you and your family, physically, mentally, and financially. Determining your legal rights to compensation can be beneficial to you and your family in a stressful situation such as this. Get started with your drunk driving accident claim by calling 800-598-7557 today.
Drunk Driving Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 10,000 people, on average, die as a result of drunk driving accidents each year in the United States. These statistics translate into one person dying every 50 minutes, and nearly 30 people dying every day.
In North Carolina, the statistics on drunk driving accidents are consistent with national data. The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) reports that in 2018, almost 8,200 crashes involved alcohol use by at least one driver. Of those crashes, 267 were fatal and 3,730 resulted in injuries.
For a free legal consultation with a drunk driving accidents lawyer serving Durham, call 800-598-7557
Liable Parties in Drunk Driving Accidents
The most obviously liable party in a drunk driving accident is the drunk driver who caused your accident. The at-fault driver’s motor vehicle insurance policy is a common source of compensation for people who are injured due to the negligence of a drunk driver in causing a crash. These claims stem from the negligence of the drunk driver, or the careless disregard for the safety of others that occurs when individuals drink alcohol and then drive. However, in some cases, these drivers may be uninsured or underinsured. Fortunately, you may have alternative sources of compensation, depending on your situation.
If individuals are driving in the course of their employment at the time that they cause a drunk driving accident, they may not be the only ones liable for the resulting injuries. Employers typically are liable for the negligent acts of their employees. As a result, the employer of the drunk driver may be liable for the costs of any injuries and property damage stemming from the accident.
Like many states, North Carolina also has a “dram shop” law that holds bars, hotels, restaurants, or other retail establishments potentially liable for injuries that a drunk driver causes in limited situations. If one of these businesses negligently sells alcohol to anyone who is under the age of 21 and the intoxication of the underage driver results in injuries to another, the business may face liability under General Statutes (GS) § 18B-121. Unlike some states, however, the North Carolina dram shop law applies only to intoxicated drivers under the age of 21. Additionally, GS § 18B-123 limits dram shop liability to $500,000 per incident, no matter how many parties suffer injuries in the incident.
Another potentially liable party in a drunk driving accident that causes injuries is the social host. This person can be anyone who serves others alcohol, whether they operate a business or not. Social hosts may include employers hosting a holiday party, friends holding a Super Bowl gathering, or parents allowing their teenagers and friends to drink alcohol in their homes. Generally, if the social host purposely provides alcohol to an intoxicated person, whether underage or not, knowing that they are likely to later drive, they may face liability in a subsequent civil lawsuit. Like drunk driver liability, social host liability is based on a legal theory of negligence, as North Carolina has no statute that specifically imposes this type of liability.
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Deadlines for Drunk Driving Accident Claims
Under GS § 1-52, people who suffer injuries in car accidents due to negligence, including those involving alcohol or drug use, have a limited time to file their personal injury claims. They generally have three years from the date of their accidents to file their claims. A Durham drunk driving accident lawyer can help ensure that you meet the appropriate statute of limitations or filing deadline in your case, as the law also does provide for some exceptions to these rules.
Furthermore, the deadline or statute of limitations for filing wrongful death claims arising from drunk driving accidents is even shorter. According to GS § 1-53, surviving immediate family members of the deceased person have only two years from the date of death to file their claims. As with personal injury claims, missing this deadline could result in a loss of the ability to seek any compensation for the loss of your loved one.
Get Legal Help with Your Drunk Driving Claim
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident, you may have legal options available to you. Driving while intoxicated is a violation of a criminal law, but it also triggers civil liability. With the assistance of a Durham drunk driving accident lawyer, you may be able to pursue compensation for your losses and hold those who harmed you accountable for their negligent acts.
The lawyers of Ben Crump Law, PLLC understand how financial concerns may make you reluctant to seek legal advice. You should know that we take cases on a contingency basis, which means you are not responsible for paying us any fees upfront. We will collect fees only after you have received a settlement or award from your claim. Reach out to us by calling 800-598-7557 and learn more about how we can help.