Drunk driving continues to be a serious matter throughout the country, including in Oklahoma. Alcohol-impaired drivers cause traumatic injuries and fatalities each day on our roads. Sadly, many of the victims of DUI accidents are the innocent occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
It can be difficult to believe that a drunk driver could escape liability for damages caused by a DUI accident. However, that happens too. Victims are denied the compensation they deserve for the injuries, damages, and losses caused by an intoxicated driver.
The Oklahoma City drunk driving accident attorneys of the McGuire Law Firm fight for the rights of victims and their families. If a drunk driver caused your injury, let our legal team fight for your right to fair compensation for your injuries. Contact our law firm today for a free consultation with an Oklahoma City car accident lawyer.
How Often Do Drunk Driving Accidents Occur in Oklahoma?
Drinking and driving is still a problem in Oklahoma. During 2018, 3,109 alcohol-related traffic crashes resulted in 147 deaths and thousands of injuries in Oklahoma statewide. Oklahoma City reported 611 drunk driving crashes in 2018 that resulted in 20 fatalities and
Oklahoma City is located within Oklahoma County, but has areas that extend into Canadian County, Pottawatomie County, and Cleveland County. The drunk driving statics for each of those counties in 2018 were:
- Oklahoma County reported 688 DUI accidents resulting in 19 deaths.
- Canadian County reported 80 DUI accidents resulting in five deaths.
- Pottawatomie County reported 48 DUI accidents resulting in one death.
- Cleveland County reported 167 drunk driving accidents resulting in two deaths.
Nationwide, someone dies approximately every 50 minutes in a drunk driving accident. During 2018, 10,511 people died in DUI accidents. Alcohol-impaired accidents resulted in almost one-third of the motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States during 2018.
Who Is Responsible for a Drunk Driving Accident in Oklahoma?
Determining who was responsible for causing the traffic accident is the key to determining who is responsible for damages related to a drunk driving accident. As with most motor vehicle crashes, the fault for the accident typically lies with one of the drivers involved in the collision. The fact that one driver was intoxicated at the time of the crash could or could not be a factor in the cause of the accident.
While driving drunk increases the risk that a driver may cause an accident, a drunk driver can be in an accident that he or she did not cause. That is what an insurance company for the drunk driver is likely to argue. The insurance company wants to avoid liability for a DUI accident.
Therefore, it is important to conduct a thorough accident investigation to determine the cause of the crash. Unless you have proof that the drunk driver caused the accident, you cannot recover compensation for your injuries.
Do I Need an Oklahoma City Accident Attorney to File a Claim?
You are not required to hire an Oklahoma drunk driving accident lawyer to file a claim, but it may be in your best interest to do so. You must still prove the other driver caused the crash.
The other driver may be charged with DUI and could be found guilty of DUI in criminal court. However, the criminal charges are separate from any civil claim you may have against the driver. Your claim is handled through the civil courts.
The fact that the driver was convicted of DUI could be evidence in your case, but it may not be sufficient to prove the driver caused the accident. Even if the police officer states in the accident report that the drunk driver caused the accident, that is not conclusive proof of fault in a civil case.
Therefore, an Oklahoma City DUI accident lawyer conducts an independent accident investigation to determine fault and gather evidence. Steps your attorney may take when investigating the crash include, but are not limited to:
- Visit the accident scene to take pictures and make videos;
- Search for eyewitnesses;
- Interview and take statements from witnesses;
- Search for videos or photographic evidence, such as videos from traffic cameras or nearby surveillance cameras;
- Hire accident reconstructionists and other experts;
- Obtain copies of the accident report and subpoena evidence from the criminal case; and,
- Examine the damage to the vehicles.
Gathering evidence and building a case against the drunk driver is a crucial element of a DUI accident case. However, your lawyer also calculates the value of your drunk driving case. Working closely with you and your doctors, your lawyer documents the damages you sustained in the accident.
Your lawyer drafts a comprehensive demand package for the insurance provider laying out the allegations of fault and your damages. Negotiations with the insurance company may take several weeks. If the insurance company does not agree to a fair settlement, your lawyer may advise filing a personal injury lawsuit to protect your right to fair compensation.
Common Injuries Caused by Drunk Driving Accidents
The injuries caused by drunk driving accidents range from minor to life-threatening. In many cases, the victims of a drunk driving crash sustain some of the worst injuries in the collision.
Injuries that are common in Oklahoma DUI crashes include, but are not limited to:
- Brain Injuries, including concussions, contusions, skull fractures, and traumatic brain injuries
- Complex fractures and broken bones
- Neck and back injuries, including spinal cord injuries, whiplash, and paralysis
- Internal organ damage and internal bleeding
- Amputation, vision loss, and loss of hearing
- Severe burns, scarring, and disfigurement
The injuries from a drunk driving accident can result in lifelong impairments and disabilities. In a few seconds, an intoxicated driver can change a person’s life forever. While money can never undo the damage caused by a DUI accident, it can help a victim receive the medical treatment and personal care needed to improve the person’s quality of life after a DUI crash.
How Much is an Oklahoma DUI Accident Claim Worth?
The value of a drunk driving accident claim depends on numerous factors. Some of the factors used to calculate how much a DUI accident claim is worth includes:
- The percentage of fault assigned to each driver;
- The type and severity of the injuries;
- The length of the victim’s recovery;
- The total of financial damages and losses;
- Whether the person sustained a disabling condition; and,
- The available insurance coverage.
In some cases, a DUI accident claim may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, but the insurance coverage is limited. If the drunk driver does not have sufficient personal assets and resources to pay the claim, the victim may not receive the full value of the claim unless he or she has underinsured motorist insurance that covers the balance of the claim.
Common damages that are included in a drunk driving accident claim are:
- Medical treatment and expenses;
- Physical therapy and occupational therapy;
- Loss of income and earnings;
- Counseling and treatment for emotional trauma;
- Scarring, disability, impairment, and disfigurement;
- The cost of personal care and travel expenses;
- Loss of enjoyment of life and quality of life; and,
- Attorneys’ fees and costs of the claim.
Careful documentation of damages is essential for maximizing the value of a DUI accident claim. Your lawyer works with you and your doctor to document your injuries. You and your lawyer work together to document financial losses.
The goal is to receive full compensation for all damages caused by a drunk driver.
What Happens if I was Partially to Blame for My Injury?
If you are partially to blame for an accident involving a drunk driver, you may not receive full compensation for all damages. Your compensation could be reduced under Oklahoma’s modified comparative fault laws.
Being partially at fault for a motor vehicle accident does not prevent you from receiving compensation for an injury claim. However, your compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you for the cause of the crash. If your percentage of fault is 51 percent or higher, you cannot receive any money for your claim.
Because insurance companies try to avoid liability by blaming the victim, working with an experienced DUI attorney near you is vital to protecting your right to fair compensation or your claim.
Is There a Deadline for Filing a Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuit in Oklahoma?
Yes, there is a deadline for filing a drunk driving accident lawsuit in Oklahoma. Generally, a person has two years from the date of the DUI accident to file a lawsuit. If the lawsuit is not filed before the deadline expires, the person loses the right to pursue a legal action against the drunk driver.
However, it is not wise to wait to contact a drunk driving accident attorney in Oklahoma City. Your attorney needs time to investigate the accident and prepare a case against the drunk driver. Also, evidence can disappear with time, so it is best to gather and preserve evidence as soon as possible after a DUI crash.
Contact an Experienced Drunk Driving Accident Attorney in Oklahoma City
Drunk drivers put themselves and all others on the road at risk. If a drunk driver causes an injury, that driver should be held liable.
The McGuire Law Firm fights for the rights of accident victims. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation with an Oklahoma City drunk driving accident attorney. We are here to help you and your family fight for the justice you deserve.