Everyone knows the risks and harm of drunk driving. And yet, drunk driving is still a common occurrence in the U.S., and North Carolina, in particular, is among the top ten most dangerous states for drunk driving. If a drunk driver caused your car accident, you should hire DeMayo Law Offices to help you with your legal case. Our well-respected team will dedicate their time and attention to getting you the justice you deserve.
Drunk driving can cause traumatic injuries and fatalities in a car crash. It’s irresponsible for anyone to consume alcohol before getting behind the wheel of their vehicle. You shouldn’t be the one to pay for the expenses and losses you incur when someone else’s harmful actions caused your injuries. Our North Carolina drunk driver accident lawyers work hard to hold the other driver accountable for their reckless behavior. You can depend on us to fight hard for the maximum compensation available.
To find out more about our legal services and how our dedicated, award-winning attorneys can help, call us at (877) 333-1000 for a free consultation.
DUI Laws in North Carolina
In North Carolina, it’s illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol. When someone is under the influence, it means an ingested substance impairs their driving abilities. Laws prohibit a person from operating a motor vehicle under the following circumstances:
- Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least .08%
- Under the influence of a substance that impairs driving abilities
It’s also illegal to be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Even if the car wasn’t moving at the time of the offense, the impaired individual could still face a DUI conviction. Juries review various factors to determine if the driver posed a risk to others, such as:
- Location of the car and driver;
- Where the keys were;
- If the engine was running; and
- If the driver was sleeping or awake.
Alcohol leads to many symptoms that can cause a driver to lose control of their car. Without normal faculties, it’s difficult to make the right choices and react appropriately in an emergency. Common symptoms of impairment include:
- Decreased perception
- Blurry or double vision
- Reduced reaction time
- Poor coordination
- Loss of muscle control
- Lack of decision-making skills
- Trouble sitting upright
- Loss of consciousness
When someone is driving drunk, they exhibit dangerous behaviors, such as:
- Swerving between lanes
- Sudden braking and accelerating
- Running red lights and stop signs
- Going well above or below the speed limit
- Drifting into the shoulder
If you notice any of these warning signs, you should put as much distance between your vehicles as possible and notify law enforcement.
What You Do Next Is Imperative to Your Case
Car accidents are traumatic. Most people experience initial shock and don’t know how to handle it. If you get hurt by a drunk driver, you must follow the steps below to protect your rights to financial compensation:
- Step 1: Report the accident to law enforcement. Wait at the scene for an officer to arrive and perform an investigation. They will write a crash report of their findings, and you can request a copy of it when it becomes available.
- Step 2: Obtain information from the drunk driver, such as:
- Phone number
- Auto insurance company
- Policy number
- Step 3: Speak to witnesses and write down their names and contact information.
- Step 4: Take photos of the crash site, vehicle damage, and your visible injuries.
- Step 5: Seek immediate medical care. If the doctor refers you for imaging, physical therapy, or other treatment, follow their orders.
- Step 6: Maintain adequate records of your injury and medical treatment. Things like medical records are sufficient in proving your injuries were the result of the accident, and you deserve compensation from the at-fault party.
- Step 7: Hire a North Carolina drunk driver accident lawyer.
How DeMayo Law Offices Can Help
Evidence is one of the most critical elements of a legal case. Without it, it will be challenging to convince an insurance company or jury that someone else’s careless actions caused your injuries. When you hire DeMayo Law Offices, we’ll thoroughly investigate the accident and collect the following evidence:
- Crash report
- Copies of your medical records
- Video surveillance of the accident
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- At-fault driver’s alcohol test results
- Vehicle repair estimates
- Documents from a DUI criminal case against the at-fault driver
- Pictures of the accident scene
- Receipts showing the driver consumed alcohol before the crash
We’ll take care of each step of your case, so you don’t have to worry about doing it yourself. This is a stressful experience for anyone to go through. We want to make the process as easy as possible. You can focus on recovering from your injuries while we communicate with the insurance company and pursue financial compensation.
Option 1: File a Liability Insurance Claim
There’s more than one legal option available after a car accident caused by a drunk driver. The first is to file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company. Under North Carolina law, there’s a fault system in place for car accidents. North Carolina is an at-fault state for car accidents. That means the person deemed responsible for the accident must pay damages to another driver, passenger, or property owner if they need repairs or medical treatment.
Every motorist must carry auto insurance with minimum liability limits for bodily injury and property damage. Bodily injury covers the damages related to an injury, while property damage covers the cost of vehicle repairs. There are two types of damages available in an insurance claim: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are expenses, such as:
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Car repair or replacement costs
- Out of pocket expenses
Non-economic damages are intangible losses, such as:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish, such as PTSD and stress
- Physical disability
- Diminished quality of life
While economic damages are easy to calculate with billing statements and invoices, non-economic damages are more challenging to determine. When an insurance company determines a fair number for things like physical and emotional pain, they will review the following contributing factors:
- The severity of the injury
- Availability of evidence proving fault
- Total hours missed from work
- Physical or mental disability resulting from the accident
- Impact of the injury on daily life
- Statements made by you, the other driver, and eyewitnesses
- Blood alcohol concentration of the other driver
- Coverage listed on all insurance policies
- The total value of economic damages
- Duration of the recovery period
- Details provided on the crash report
- The extent of damage to all cars involved in the crash
Option 2: File a UM Insurance Claim
Despite state laws requiring liability coverage, there are times when drivers don’t have insurance. If the drunk driver that caused your accident doesn’t carry a liability insurance policy, you can file a claim with your auto insurance company.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) are coverages that provide accident victims the funds they need when the at-fault party doesn’t have liability insurance, or when their limits aren’t high enough to compensate you for all incurred damages. Like liability insurance, UM/UIM provides coverage for bodily injury and property damage.
Under a UMBI claim, you can pursue the following damages up to the limit listed on your policy:
- Past and future medical treatment
- Out of pocket costs
- Pain and suffering
- Past and future lost wages
With a UMPD claim, the following damages are available for compensation:
- Vehicle repair or replacement
- Damage to personal property
Option 3: File a Lawsuit
Drunk driving cases often result in a lawsuit. If you want to pursue compensation directly from the at-fault driver, you can file suit in the civil court system. You’re entitled to compensation for your economic and non-economic damages but can also pursue punitive damages.
Punitive damages aren’t intended to compensate an accident victim. Instead, it’s a way to punish the other party for their actions and deter similar future behavior. If they’re facing a DUI charge, you could use the evidence from their criminal case to strengthen your civil case.
Juries rarely award punitive damages unless there are special circumstances surrounding the event. You must have clear and convincing evidence that the drunk driver displayed acts of fraud, malice, or willful conduct.
State law requires that you follow a strict deadline known as a statute of limitations. In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for car accidents is three years. That means you have three years from the crash date to file a lawsuit against the other driver. After three years pass, you’ll lose your right to pursue compensation.
Choose DeMayo Law Offices
Our North Carolina drunk driver accident lawyers understand the devastation you’re experiencing. The injuries you sustained require medical treatment and prevent you from performing your job. The financial burden you’re facing is overwhelming. Our legal team will work hard to resolve your case efficiently so you can move forward with your life. We’ll use our experience, resources, and knowledge to fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.
At DeMayo Law Offices, we care about our clients. When you hire us, we’ll make you a priority. We’ll remain by your side from beginning to end of the legal process. We’re available 24/7, so you can speak with us whenever you need us. You’ll receive dependable customer service and support throughout your case.
If you were the victim of a drunk driver car accident and want to discuss your legal options, call us today at (877) 333-1000 to schedule a free consultation.