Impaired driving is a huge safety issue in Alabama. Both alcohol and drugs cause tremendous destruction on our roads and highways. Too many Alabama families suffer the needless injury or death of a loved one due to other drivers who wrongfully choose to drive while impaired.Drunk Driving – A Leading Cause of Highway Deaths in Alabama
For decades, safety groups have worked to reduce deadly drunk driving on our roads. These efforts included campaigns both to raise public awareness of the danger and to improve our driving laws. These efforts have saved countless lives. Yet, drunk driving still remains a serious safety issue.
Highway research places Alabama among the most dangerous states for drunk driving. Nationwide, thousands of people die every year in alcohol-related crashes. Annual statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) paint a disturbing picture of needless injury and death. According to recent numbers, alcohol-related crashes account for more than 25% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. In one recent year, law enforcement made over a million arrests for driving under the influence (DUI). In some of our personal injury cases, the defendant drivers have a long history of combining alcohol and cars to put others at risk. We want to pursue justice aggressively for the innocent people hurt by this conduct. Impaired driving is a huge societal and safety problem.
No amount of money can replace a human life. No amount of money can restore the health of a family member suffering disability or chronic pain from a car accident. Life and health are priceless. What does drunk driving cost in tangible expenses we can measure? These costs include:
- Lost Productivity
- Workplace and Wage Losses
- Medical Bills and Expenses
- Emergency Medical Care
- Legal and Court Costs
- Property Damage
NHTSA research for a single year placed these costs, alone, at $44 billion. That’s a tremendous burden for society. We all suffer immeasurable costs due to the harm caused by drunk drivers on our roads.
Our local Huntsville television stations report deadly crashes on Memorial Parkway, Interstate 565 and Interstate 65 in northern Alabama. Crashes on these limited access highways often involve intoxicated drivers traveling the wrong way. Fortunately, the barriers and limited access on these highways prevent many fatal crashes. Although these highways are a safety concern, research reveals the vast majority of fatal alcohol-related crashes occur on non-interstate roads. Alabama has many miles of rural and suburban roads. This is a major reason why our rate of alcohol-related crash fatalities is so high. Our loved ones travel these roads on a daily basis. They deserve roads free of impaired drivers putting everyone else in danger.Impaired Driving – Drug Impairment Puts Lives at Risk
Through hard work, advocacy groups have reduced the number of deadly drunk driving crashes. Yet, in recent years, impaired driving from drugs has become an increasing problem. Some safety researchers now believe drivers killed in car crashes are more likely to be impaired from drugs than intoxicated from alcohol. At the Blackwell Law Firm, we often investigate serious personal injury claims where a defendant recklessly chose to drive while impaired on both alcohol and drugs. We often see a combination of both drugs and alcohol in the most serious and horrific car crashes. If we want safe roads, our community must hold these reckless drivers accountable for the harms they cause.
Both legal medications and illegal drugs put lives at risk. These substances often include marijuana, opioids, or methamphetamines. How do these substances affect and impair drivers?
- Marijuana, opioids and other drugs can impair driving by slowing coordination, reaction times and judgment.
- Drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine can make drivers reckless and aggressive.
- Many prescription medications (and some over the counter medications) come with strong warnings of drowsiness, dizziness or to not operate machinery when using. These warnings should be taken seriously. Yet, people often choose to ignore them.
Too many people falsely believe drugs like marijuana and opioids do not impair their ability to drive. Yet, these drugs do impair users. Because drug companies mass-produced and mass-marketed medications like opioid pain pills, many legal medications are over-prescribed and over-used. Our northern Alabama communities have seen an explosion in opioid use, both legal and illegal. Marijuana use is also increasing among drivers.Alcohol Servers – Bars and Restaurants may be Responsible for Serious Injuries and Deaths
At the Blackwell Law Firm, we work hard to hold reckless drivers accountable for the injuries they cause. Can a bar or restaurant be held responsible for alcohol-related crashes? Many states, including Alabama, have laws regulating the sale of alcohol. These laws are known as Dram Shop Laws and do hold alcohol servers responsible in some situations. Alabama’s Dram Shop Act is contained in Alabama Code Section 6-5-71. Our law states in part:
Every wife, child, parent, or other person who shall be injured in person, property, or means of support by any intoxicated person or in consequence of the intoxication of any person shall have a right of action against any person who shall, by selling, giving, or otherwise disposing of to another, contrary to the provisions of law, any liquors or beverages, cause the intoxication of such person for all damages actually sustained, as well as exemplary damages.
What does it mean to sell or give alcohol “contrary to law” as stated in the statute? First, Alabama law prohibits minors from having access to alcohol. It would clearly be contrary to our law for anyone to provide minors with alcohol. In addition, the Alabama Supreme Court also interprets the phrase “contrary to law” to include situations where alcohol is served contrary to the rules of the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board. ABC Board rules apply to businesses that sell or serve alcohol. Our ABC Board prohibits businesses from serving alcohol to an individual who appears visibly intoxicated.
What are the ways someone can be liable for an injury because they provided alcohol “contrary to law” in Alabama? First, anyone who provides alcohol to a minor may be liable if the minor’s intoxication caused an injury or death. Second, a business that sells or serves alcohol to someone already visibly intoxicated may also be held liable for alcohol-related injuries and deaths.Seek Experienced Legal Counsel in Crashes Involving Serious Injury or Death
Are you bombarded with lawyer advertisements on television, radio and billboards? These settlement mill lawyers prefer quick and low settlements to the hard work necessary for important cases. Settlement mill lawyers spend a lot of time advertising but little (or no) time working individual cases.
Impaired driving cases are different from typical car accidents. These cases are not fender bender claims which can be quickly settled. Real justice demands real accountability. How are they different?
First, insurance companies often ignore the dangerous and reckless conduct of their impaired drivers. Yet, this reckless conduct should never be ignored. Instead, insurance companies look to resolve these claims just like a simple fender bender. Impaired driving crashes are not simple negligence claims. Impaired driving crashes involve reckless choices and reckless conduct that may warrant punitive damages. A lawyer who prepares and understands courtrooms will work to recover all possible damages and compensation for you.
Second, impaired driving cases can involve horrible crashes and scenes. Impaired drivers often drive at high speeds, without slowing for traffic signals, or against the proper direction of traffic. Your lawyer needs experience working to investigate, reconstruct and present these serious crashes.
Third, impaired driving cases require investigation. Your lawyer must work hard to investigate fully the crash. Are other people or companies also liable for the crash? Did a bar or restaurant continue to serve the impaired driver when he was visibly intoxicated? Did an employer put the impaired driver in a position to cause the crash? Did a car owner loan his vehicle to a reckless or incompetent driver? A full investigation may reveal other parties who are also liable for your damages. If the impaired driver only has limited insurance coverage, these other responsible parties may be tremendously important to your case. Full justice requires a full investigation.
If you were seriously injured by an impaired driver, the most important decisions you make always concern your health and medical care. No decisions are more important than your health, medical care and physical recovery. You may also face very serious questions about your employment and financial security. We believe hurt people should focus first on their health.
Choosing the right lawyer is a very important decision for the future of your claim and compensation. Choose a lawyer with compassion, legal skill, dedication to hard work and real experience with these cases. At the Blackwell Law Firm, our lawyers specialize in serious personal injury cases. We devote 100% of our professional time to studying, working and advocating for personal injury and safety issues. We specialize so we can focus all our training, all our work, and all our effort, on maximizing your personal injury claim. We have years of experience investigating, preparing and presenting these serious claims in court.
At the Blackwell Law Firm, we begin every case with you. Talking to you. Meeting with your family. Understanding your personal story. Answering your questions and concerns. Counseling you about decisions you face. Some law firms send “investigators” or “assistants” to sign clients. We do not. That’s horrible. At our firm, you meet with an attorney. We need to hear your story personally.
We also begin working immediately to investigate fully the accident, accident scene, vehicles and witnesses. This is essential to develop a complete picture of the crash and how it occurred. We also investigate and identify everyone responsible for the crash.
We also begin working to present fully your injuries and damages. This involves studying every medical record and note. This involves medical research and medical discussions. It may also mean engaging experts, doctors and other medical professionals. We have years of experience developing and presenting complex medical and economic evidence in cases. Our goal is to obtain the maximum compensation for you and your family.
If you or a family member suffered a serious injury, we are happy to answer your questions. Consultations are always free and confidential.