Columbus Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
Perhaps the most tragic aspect of auto accidents is that they are nearly always preventable but wind up happening because somebody failed to drive with the proper amount of attention and care. Nowhere is this truer than in the case of drunk driving crashes. Every driver knows that drinking and driving is dangerous, criminal, and morally reprehensible. Yet every day, people choose to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink. Drunk driving accidents are frustratingly common and tend to be among the most serious crashes, often causing catastrophic injury or wrongful death to the occupants of the other vehicle or the pedestrians who get hit. Attorney Jami S. Oliver and her team at the Oliver Law Office have the skills, knowledge and determination needed to hold drunk drivers liable for the full amount of the damage they have caused. Spend your time after a crash focusing on yourself and your family, and let the Oliver Law Office focus on getting you the justice and compensation you are owed under the law. Contact our experienced Columbus drunk driving accident lawyer today.
Ohio Drunk Driving Accident Statistics
According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, Ohio saw 351 deaths in 2019 because of drunk driving. Over 30% of all traffic fatalities in the state were caused by drinking and driving. These facts are in line with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) that show 3,637 Ohioans lost their lives in crashes involving a drunk driver over a ten-year period from 2003-2012. Perhaps most alarming, while fatal drunk driving crashes have dropped nationwide by 5.7% over the last ten years, they actually increased by 3.4% in Ohio during that same period.
Why Drunk Driving Car Accidents Are so Dangerous
Alcohol intoxication negatively affects every critical function necessary to safe driving. Alcohol dulls the senses, including vision and hearing, and causes blurred vision, double vision, and vertigo. Alcohol dulls reflexes and impairs judgment, making intoxicated drivers more likely to underreact or overreact to changes in traffic patterns. Drunk drivers drive too slow or too fast, they drift out of their lanes into other lanes or oncoming traffic, and they drive on the wrong side of the road, even on the highway. Drunk drivers are less likely to apply the brakes before a collision, increasing the force and disastrous effects of a crash. Alcohol intoxication also increases the chances a driver will fall asleep at the wheel.
The more alcohol one consumes, the more alcohol impairs the ability to drive. This fact is borne out by the statistic showing that 69.7% of drunk drivers involved in fatal accidents in Ohio in 2019 had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15% or more, which is nearly twice the legal limit of .08% BAC.
Drunk Drivers Can Be Held Liable for Punitive Damages
Ohio law allows juries to award punitive or exemplary damages in cases where the defendant acted with malice, such as by willfully or intentionally taking actions highly likely to cause injury. As the name suggests, punitive or exemplary damages are meant to punish the defendant or set an example to others of conduct that society will not tolerate. A punitive damage award can be as high as double the amount of compensatory damages awarded in a personal injury or wrongful death case. Compensatory damages are those damages meant to compensate the injured party for losses and harm like medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, or loss of companionship with a family member.
Punitive damages have to be proven in a separate phase of a trial, and the facts supporting a punitive damages award have to be proven by “clear and convincing evidence,” which is a higher standard than the “preponderance of the evidence” standard required to prove liability for compensatory damages. The Oliver Law Office is always willing to take this extra step and put in the additional effort to secure the maximum justice and compensation for injury victims and their families.
Bars and Liquor Stores Can Be Held Liable for Drunk Driving Car Accidents
Ohio law recognizes a legal concept known as “dram shop liability.” Under this principle, a bar, nightclub or other establishment that sells alcohol can be held liable for accidents caused by drunk drivers if the establishment overserved the customer. To be liable, the plaintiff (the injured party) must be able to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that:
- The establishment knowingly sold an intoxicating beverage to a noticeably intoxicated person or a minor
- The individual’s intoxication was the “proximate cause” of the personal injury or wrongful death that followed in the drunk driving crash
Proximate cause is a complicated legal doctrine that basically means it was foreseeable that overserving the drunk patron or serving a minor could lead to a crash, and no other factor intervened to cause the accident. In appropriate cases, the Oliver Law Office seeks justice and compensation from all responsible parties in a drunk driving crash, which could include the driver, their employer, and the establishment that sold or overserved alcohol to a noticeably intoxicated person or a minor.
Contact the Oliver Law Office Today
If you were hurt in a crash caused by a drunk driver, or if you lost a loved one in a tragic drinking and driving car accident, the Oliver Law Office is here to help you get justice and compensation while you concentrate on healing and getting your life back in order. Call our experienced Columbus drunk driving accident lawyer today for a free consultation to talk about how we can help.