Advocating for Individuals & Families Effected by Drunk Drivers Throughout Colorado
When a drunk driver injures or kills someone, victims deserve accountability, justice, and compensation. As Denver’s drunk driving injury attorneys, we have seen first-hand the havoc and pain intoxicated drivers cause. That is why Parrish and Jennings have zero tolerance for drunk driving and fight tirelessly on behalf of clients whose lives have been turned upside-down by such irresponsibility and negligence.
Too Many People Get Behind the Wheel After Too Many Drinks. Too Many Americans Are Hurt or Killed as a Result.
Everyone knows that drunk driving is dangerous, irresponsible, and illegal. Everyone knows that drunk drivers hurt tens of thousands of Americans and senselessly kill thousands more each year. And yet, too many people still get behind the wheel after one – or six – too many drinks. The result is shattered lives and grieving families.
Drunk drivers kill almost 30 Americans every single day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That means that every 52 minutes in the United States, one parent, child, sibling, friend, or other loved one won’t ever make it home because of an intoxicated motorist.
In 2019, there were 10,142 drunk driving accident fatalities, the NHTSA reports. That equals 28 percent of all traffic fatalities for that year. Here in Colorado, 1,548 people died in crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver between 2009-2018.
How Drunk Driving Accident Claims Work
Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an extreme and deadly form of negligence. As such, someone injured or a family who lost a loved one because of that negligence can hold the driver accountable, just as they could if that driver caused an accident by texting, speeding, tailgating, or otherwise driving recklessly.
The difference between drunk driving accident cases and other car accident cases is that a drunk driver who hurts or kills someone in Colorado will likely also face felony charges for driving under the influence (DUI). How the driver’s criminal case proceeds can affect a victim’s civil lawsuit against them.
A drunk driving victim can file and pursue a civil car accident injury lawsuit while prosecutors seek a DUI conviction against the driver. Sometimes, it makes strategic sense to let the criminal case conclude before filing suit, as long as the victim files it before the statute of limitations runs out. That is because a DUI conviction or guilty plea can go a long way towards establishing the civil liability necessary to recover damages in a drunk driving injury suit.
DUI as Evidence of Negligence
In any Colorado motor vehicle accident lawsuit, the person seeking compensation must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant driver was negligent, that their negligence caused the accident, and that the claimed injuries and losses were incurred because of the driver’s negligent conduct.
Often, proving the other driver’s negligence is the most challenging part of an auto accident lawsuit. But when police, prosecutors, and the driver provide damning evidence of negligence with a DUI conviction or plea, proving negligence becomes significantly more straightforward.
The evidence Colorado prosecutors use to obtain a drunk driving conviction – police reports, breathalyzer or blood tests, and witness statements, for example – can also be used by victims in their drunk driving suit. A conviction for DUI can often serve as conclusive evidence of the driver’s negligence in a civil lawsuit.
Even if the other driver is not charged with DUI or is acquitted of the crime, an injury victim may be able to use any admissible evidence collected by the police that shows alcohol in the driver’s system to prove negligence. Importantly, just because a driver’s blood alcohol content was below the legal limit does not mean they were not negligent or impaired.
The Drunk Driver May Not Be the Only One Responsible for the Accident
If a drunk driver is uninsured or underinsured, there’s a good chance they don’t have the money to pay a judgment or offer enough in settlement to compensate a victim for their injuries and damages. But sometimes, drunk driving injury victims can hold other individuals or businesses responsible for the driver’s actions.
Colorado’s “dram shop” statute provides that licensed alcoholic beverage vendors, such as bars and restaurants, can be held liable in a civil lawsuit for injuries and damages that result from “the intoxication of any person due to the sale or service of any alcohol beverage” if “the licensee willfully and knowingly sold or served any alcohol” to a person under 21 years old or anyone “visibly intoxicated.”
Similarly, individuals who throw a party at their home – “social hosts” – can be held for injuries and losses caused by an underage guest who drives drunk if the hosts knowingly served alcohol to minors or knowingly provided a place for minors to consume alcohol.
Any claim against a licensee or social host must be filed within one year of the date of the alleged sale or event, and Colorado law limits damages recoverable against such defendants to $150,000.
Parrish and Jennings: Denver Drunk Driving Accident Injury Attorney
At Parrish and Jennings, we know that the aftermath of a drunk driving accident can be a traumatic and challenging time for those injured or the family of those killed. With compassion and determination, we stand ready to help you recover by fighting to get you the compensation that can help you heal.
Please contact us today to arrange for your free initial consultation. We look forward to the privilege of serving you.