Car accidents involving impaired drivers can cause extreme damage, and victims can seek compensation. But proving that the at-fault driver was under the influence at the time of the crash is often harder than it seems.
Learn more about the evidence that can pin down a personal injury settlement and help you recover financially and physically.
Drunk Driving in Ohio
In Ohio, it is illegal for drivers to operate a vehicle when their Blood Alcohol Concentration level is more than .08%. People caught driving with a high BAC can be charged with an Operating a Vehicle While Impaired offense.
Drivers with a Commercial Driver’s License shouldn’t consume any controlled or illicit substances while they’re working. The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration regulates CDL carriers. They must not operate any vehicles with a BAC higher than .04%.
Unfortunately, some drivers ignore these rules and drive while intoxicated.
Useful Evidence Needed to Prove a Driver Was Drunk
When your attorney is trying to prove your injuries were caused by a drunk driver, they’ll need evidence that can hold the defendant accountable. Most of this evidence can be collected at the scene of the crash, but some of it can be tracked down later.
- Police Reports: Police officers who respond to the scene of an accident will conduct field sobriety tests if they suspect alcohol involvement. The results of these tests, along with the officer’s observations, are documented in police reports.
- Breathalyzer or Blood Test Results: These are critical pieces of evidence. A driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can be measured through breathalyzer tests at the scene or blood tests taken shortly after the accident.
- Eyewitness Testimony: Witnesses who observed the accident can provide statements regarding the behavior and condition of the driver before, during, and after the accident. That includes observations of erratic driving, the smell of alcohol, or the driver’s physical appearance and behavior.
- Surveillance Footage: Nearby security or traffic cameras might capture the accident or the driver’s behavior before the crash, providing objective evidence of fault and intoxication.
- Expert Testimony: Experts in accident reconstruction or toxicology can provide insights into the accident’s cause and how alcohol could have affected the defendant before the crash.
- Admission of Guilt: In some cases, the driver may admit to drinking or being under the influence at the scene or later.
- Physical Evidence: Open alcohol containers in the vehicle, or other signs of alcohol consumption, can be used as evidence.
- Social Media or Other Evidence: Sometimes, there might be social media posts or other evidence showing the driver consuming alcohol before driving.
Collecting and presenting this evidence in a clear and convincing manner is crucial for proving that the other driver was drunk and at fault in a car accident. A skilled attorney will be able to track down the evidence necessary to win your settlement.
The Dangers of Drunk Driving
A drunk driving accident can cause severe damage and significant injuries. Drunk drivers are likely to weave into oncoming lanes of traffic, so head-on crashes are very common. Some drunk drivers may see intersections too late: they may not slow down or stop at all, leading to rear-end collisions or T-bone impacts.
Crash victims may experience traumatic brain injuries, broken limbs, nerve damage, or even paralysis, among other injuries.
How to Identify Drunk Drivers & Hold Them Accountable
Recognizing a drunk driver while on the road could prevent an accident. Some drunk drivers leave the scene after a crash, so you may have to tell police after a crash that you suspect an impaired driver is at fault.
Here are common indications that a driver is under the influence of alcohol:
- Erratic changes in speed.
- Failure to stay in a designated lane.
- Delayed signals.
- Delayed response to hazards on the road.
- Straddling the road’s center lane.
- Failure to use headlights at night.
Available Damages After a Drunk Driving Accident
When you make a personal injury claim against a drunk driver, you can seek compensation for the damages you received in the crash. That could be your economic and non-economic damages.
Your economic damages are your out-of-pocket expenses, things like your medical bills, lost wages, car repairs, and in some fatal cases, your loved one’s funeral expenses.
Non-economic expenses are things that can’t be easily calculated, but were damages caused by your crash or economic expenses. This could include traumatic damage, pain and suffering, or loss of consortium.
Dram Shop Liability in Ohio
The drunk driver may not be the only party you can seek compensation from after a crash. In Ohio, you are entitled to compensation if you can prove that a bar or restaurant holder overserved a driver before they crashed, they can share in that driver’s responsibility.
A police officer can include a driver’s statements in their reports. Questions about drinking and where they were before the crash could help your case. A personal injury lawyer would also be able to investigate the defendant’s whereabouts before a crash.
The Challenges of a Drunk Driving Claim
Although there can be times when a drunk driving crash is obvious to you, a defendant may still try to bring evidence or claims against your case to fight against their penalties.
A defendant may claim they hadn’t been drinking or that a police officer’s test or equipment were faulty. They may argue that you were at fault for the crash, even if they were drinking before the crash. They might also argue that your losses aren’t that severe, so they downplay the damage they did.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help Prove the Driver Was Drunk
A drunk driver may face criminal charges after a crash. Your claim will work separately from the criminal justice effort, although your case can be strengthened by a conviction. You should work with an Ohio personal injury lawyer with experience dealing with car crashes and drunk drivers.
Your attorney will lead your side of the investigation, gathering evidence to support your claim that the at-fault driver was drinking before the accident. Your lawyer will find expert witnesses, and help you build a case by negotiating with the insurance companies. They’ll help you deal with pre-trial business, and help you in court. An attorney is your best chance at recovering maximum compensation after a drunk driving crash hurts you or your family.
Call an Ohio Car Accident Injury Lawyer
Dealing with a car crash can be stressful. You may face several unknowns, like how will you get to work with a wrecked car, how will you pay for bills while you recover from your injuries, and how can you hold the drunk driver responsible for your damages.
You can answer those questions with the help of a personal injury lawyer at Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright, Co. LPA. We understand how confusing a crash can be, and when you’re dealing with an impaired driver, there can be complications. We’ve helped countless clients recover millions in personal injury cases, and we’re ready to hear your story and get started.