Thanks to increased alcohol education, everyone with a driver's license now knows that drinking and driving poses an unacceptable and unnecessary threat to everyone on the road.
Drunk drivers kill or seriously injure the innocent motorists around them with their irresponsible decisions to get behind the wheel. Statistics from the federal Department of Transportation show that people are significantly more likely to die in an accident when alcohol was involved—in 2005, alcohol was a factor in seven percent of all crashes, but 39 percent of fatal crashes. And study after study shows that most drunk drivers involved in accidents are chronic drunk drivers, with a history of previous DUIs or license suspensions.
Killing or seriously injuring someone while driving under the influence is a serious crime in Pennsylvania, punishable with prison time and stiff penalties. But being hit by a drunk driver has effects that putting him or her in prison can't begin to address. Almost all victims will have expensive repair and medical bills to pay. Victims who sustain a permanent disability face learning a new way of life, months or years of physical therapy, and possibly multiple surgeries.
Families of those who die must contend not only with funeral costs, but a lifetime without the companionship -- and incomes -- of their loved ones. And almost every victim encounters serious pain -- physical and emotional. If you're facing these issues because of someone else's carelessness, you have the right to take the drunk driver to court and ask for financial damages.
In some drunk driving lawsuits, a third party may be involved, such as a municipality that failed to maintain safe roads or the maker of a defective auto part. In Pennsylvania, victims also may be able to use our "dram shop" law to hold a liquor-serving establishment or private host liable if they served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated or underage person who later caused an accident. These circumstances could help your case, but they also often have different statutes of limitations. That's why it's important to consult an experienced drunk driving injury attorney as soon as you start considering whether to file a lawsuit.
If you or someone you care about has been injured in an alcohol-related crash, we can help you evaluate your case.