CRASHES CAUSED BY DRUNK DRIVERS
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2016 an average of 102 people died every day in motor vehicle crashes. That was 37,461 people killed in 34,436 crashes. For a community like the Lawton/Ft. Sill area, that is 11 people killed in a motor vehicle crash each year. Alcohol impaired drivers kill 29 people every day across the county. In 2016, there were 10,497 people killed in alcohol impaired driving crashes. Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal. Thus, if you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle crash where the at-fault driver was drunk, you should consult with an attorney that has experience in handling this unique type of personal injury case.
Because of the unique character of this type of case, a specialized type of investigation is imperative. For example, your case may involve what is known as a Dram Shop claim (see our article on Dram Shop Claims). It must be determined whether there are others that were responsible for the crash in addition to the drunk driver. Was the drunk driver a minor? If so, the individuals and businesses that supplied the alcohol to the minor may be responsible.
Driving while drunk or under the influence of alcohol affects the driver’s abilities in a number of ways. Some of the effects are:
- The driver’s level of alertness is impaired by alcohol. The alcohol may affect the driver’s attention or may cause the driver to become drowsy.
- Driving requires good hand/eye coordination. Alcohol adversely affects that coordination making driving dangerous.
- A drunk driver’s vision is impaired making driving hazardous. His vision can be blurred. It can affect one’s ability to see well at night. It also can slow one’s eye movements and ability to see a hazard such as someone walking across the street. It can even affect one’s perception of color which can impair the driver’s ability to see and evaluate traffic signals.
- Driving while drunk also makes it much more difficult for the driver to judge the distance between his vehicle and other vehicles. Thus, the drunk driver may not realize that he is tailgating the vehicle in front of him until it is too late. Drinking also impairs a driver’s ability to appreciate his position on the road in relation to the centerline. How many times have you seen someone drift past the centerline of the road?
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, drinking slows one’s reflexes making it very difficult to react while driving. The drunk driver that you have seen crossing the centerline suddenly jerks his car back into the lane is a result of his reduced reflexes and his impaired spatial awareness.
Many people may believe that they can handle their personal injury claim against the drunk driver’s insurance company without an attorney. They believe, mistakenly, that because the cause of the crash was so obvious (the other driver was drunk) that the insurance company will be willing to quickly and fairly settle your claim. Unfortunately, that is simply the opposite of reality. Many insurance companies are actually much less willing to promptly and fairly settle a claim against a drunk driver. They will want to take your statement so that they can get you to admit facts that can later be twisted and distorted. Let me give you an example of a case that was handled by the Scott Ray Law Firm. We will call our client John Doe.
John Doe was stopped at a red stop light with another vehicle in front of him that had also stopped at the red light. John had his wife and their three grandchildren in the vehicle. Suddenly, they were violently struck from behind by a drunk driver. The drunk driver was arrested and had a blood alcohol level over 3 times the legal limit. Amazingly, the only uninjured person in the crash was the drunk driver. John contacted the drunk driver’s insurance company and the insurance company adjuster took his statement. She asked him how the crash happened. John told her that he had pulled out onto the street and drove until he had to stop for the red light. Next thing he knew, he was hit. The insurance company tried to claim (even in official court documents) that John shot out in front of the drunk driver and the drunk driver didn’t have time to stop before hitting John’s vehicle—the insurance company claimed the entire crash was John’s fault based on his statement. The truth was that John had turned onto the street several blocks before coming to the red light. The truth was that it was the drunk driver’s 4th DUI charge that had been filed against her. Two of the driver’s previous DUI charges also caused crashes and injuries.
Crashes caused by drunk drivers should never happen. If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, don’t call the drunk’s insurance company, call the Scott Ray Law Firm at 580-248-5557. Get the compensation you deserve for the injuries that were so needlessly caused by the drunk driver.
 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts 2016 data: alcohol-impaired driving. U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC; 2017 Available at: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812450