Associated With:
Super Lawyers
American Association for Justice
The National Trial Lawyers
WSAJ Eagle 2023

Drunk Driving Accidents

Crashes caused by drunk drivers are different from other auto accidents because the at-fault driver should never have been on the road at all. Driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs (prescription or illicit) is illegal in all fifty states. When a person chooses to drive drunk, they make a choice to break the law well before causing a crash. Even though it is common knowledge that driving under the influence may result in criminal charges and jail time, drunk driving continues to be a major problem. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has determined that 22.8 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams per deciliter or more.

Damages Available in Drunk Driving Accident Claims

Drunk Driving AccidentsIf you have been injured by a drunk driver, or if a loved one was killed, you are likely entitled to compensation. In injury cases, such compensation generally includes medical expenses (past and future), lost earnings, property damage, and pain and suffering. In wrongful death cases, compensation generally includes “loss of consortium” to certain family members, and other damages awarded to the deceased person’s estate. For a more thorough explanation of wrongful death claims in Washington, click here. For additional information regarding the type of damages available, see our page on How Lawyers Determine Case Value.

In contrast to other states, Washington does not allow punitive damages to be awarded in drunk driving accident cases. Punitive damages are money damages awarded for the purpose of punishing the wrongdoer, and deterring similar conduct by others in the future. For a more in-depth explanation on the availability of punitive damages in Washington, click here.

Collecting Evidence of Intoxication

Drunk driving injury cases differ from other auto injury cases in that often times, we must look closely at what the defendant was doing many hours before the crash in order to establish consumption or alcohol or drugs. In other car crash cases, the focus is usually on the moments before the crash (i.e. Did the defendant run a red light? Did the defendant fail to yield?). Evidence beyond police records helps to paint the full picture. Collecting evidence of drug and alcohol consumption may prove difficult, but lawyers experienced with drunk driving cases know the right questions to ask and the right places to look for this evidence. For example, bar surveillance video or records of itemized bar receipts may prove invaluable in establishing the quantity and timeline of alcohol consumption.

Benefits of Having a Skilled Attorney on Your Side

Through our experience, we have learned that in order to maximize recovery for our clients, we must prepare each case as if it is going to trial. Of course, the reality is that very few cases actually make it to trial because the parties agree to settle out of court. However, our experience has taught us that insurance companies generally only pay significant settlements when they know that the claimant is prepared to take the case through to trial. Without a lawyer representing you, it is difficult to show the insurance company that you are serious about your claim. In drunk driving cases, hiring a lawyer early on will allow you to collect the evidence you need to effectively present your claim to the insurance company, and to put yourself in the best position to reach a fair settlement of your claim.