The holidays are supposed to be a safe and fun time to travel and celebrate with family and friends. Unfortunately, however, the number of drunk driving motor vehicle collisions increases significantly over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. According to statistics provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over the past 5 years, on average, 300 people died in drunk driving crashes during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period. In December 2016 alone, 781 people lost their lives in drunk driving crashes. Consequently, in Philadelphia and elsewhere, police officers are increasing their presences and are constantly on the lookout for drunk and impaired drivers on the roadways.
One of the main reasons why drunk driving is so dangerous is because of the nature of alcohol itself. Because alcohol is a depressant, it slows down a person’s central nervous system functioning. When someone drives a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, he or she will likely experience altered depth perception and delayed reaction time while behind the wheel. Drunk drivers usually do not appreciate the consequences of their actions until it is too late and the damage has already been done.
If you have sustained personal injuries and damages in a Philadelphia motor vehicle accident that was caused by a drunk driver, you may be eligible to recover monetary compensation under Pennsylvania law. The skilled Philadelphia car accident lawyers at The Levin Firm have the legal knowledge and expertise to help you prove the elements of your personal injury case, negotiate with the insurance company to reach a favorable settlement, or litigate and take your case to trial in the Pennsylvania courts.
Consequences of Drunk Driving and Pennsylvania Drunk Driving Law
Pennsylvania does not take drunk driving lightly. Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can result in an impaired state of mind, altered depth perception, blurry vision, slowed-down reaction time, and inability to control the motor vehicle. All of these can result in serious collisions with objects or other vehicles on the roadway. When a drunk driver negligently gets behind the wheel, one or more of the following can result:
- Rear end motor vehicle accidents, which can lead to multi-vehicle, chain reaction collisions
- Collisions with pedestrians at intersections, on curbs, or on concrete medians in the middle of a roadway
- High-speed collisions with other vehicles on the highway
Since serious consequences can result, the penalties for drunk driving in Pennsylvania are harsh. Under Pennsylvania law, the first time you are arrested or convicted of drunk driving, you will receive 6 months’ probation, along with a $300 fine, assuming your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is between .08 and .99. However, if your BAC ranges from .10 to .159, you will be incarcerated from 2 days to 6 months, along with a $500 to $5,000 fine and a 12-month suspension of your driver’s license.
Proving Negligence in a Philadelphia Drunk Driving Case
In order to recover monetary compensation for the injuries and damages you sustained in a Philadelphia drunk driving accident, you must first be able to prove negligence on the part of the at-fault motor vehicle driver. Specifically, you must be able to show that the at-fault driver’s violation of the standard of care directly resulted in all of your injuries and damages.
All Pennsylvania drivers operating their motor vehicles on roadways throughout the Commonwealth owe a duty to other drivers and pedestrians to drive in a reasonably careful, prudent, and safe manner. When a driver operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then he or she is breaking the law. This violation alone may be sufficient for the accident victim to prove fault. However, the accident victim will still need to prove that he or she was injured in the accident and that these injuries directly resulted from the accident, as opposed to predating the accident. The drunk driver’s motor vehicle insurance policy will likely provide the coverage to compensate the accident victim for injuries and damages sustained in the accident.
Potential Damages Available to Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents
Injured Philadelphia drunk driving accident victims may be eligible to recover monetary compensation for some or all of the following:
- Medical and physical therapy bills
- Lost wages and time missed from work due to the accident
- Past, present, and future pain, suffering, and inconvenience
- Mental anguish and emotional distress caused by the accident (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder – or PTSD)
- Psychological or psychiatric damage caused by the accident
- Lost earning capacity in cases of permanent impairment
- Loss of consortium, companionship, or spousal support
- Loss of use (i.e. of a body part)
- Loss of enjoyment or quality of life
In many drunk driving accident cases where an accident victim is claiming personal injuries, insurance adjusters become skeptical of the nature and extent of those claimed injuries. The adjuster may argue that the claimed injuries preexisted the accident or were not caused by the accident. A personal injury lawyer can help you retain the necessary medical experts to prove causal connection in your case.
Call a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawyer Today for a Free Initial Consultation and Case Evaluation
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by a drunk or impaired driver, time may be of the essence in your case. Insurance companies are not on your side and will do everything they can to avoid paying out money to settle your case. The experienced team of personal injury attorneys at The Levin Firm is ready and willing to take on the insurance company and assist you with every aspect of your case. In addition to being skilled negotiators, our attorneys are also skilled litigators and welcome the opportunity to litigate your case through the Pennsylvania court system. If the insurance company still refuses to make a favorable settlement offer in your case, our attorneys can take your case to trial. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Philadelphia car accident lawyer, please call us or contact us online today.