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Were You In An Accident With a Drunk Driver
Impaired drivers choose to get behind the wheel and drive. Victims don’t get to choose whether they are caught up in the destructive aftermath. At the law firm of Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC, we understand the incredible pain and stress that you are experiencing. You’ve been left in a vulnerable position by someone who made a reckless and negligent choice. What can you do to recover from this traumatic accident? You can turn to a group of experienced attorneys who know how to help you get the financial compensation you are entitled to following an accident. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a drunk driving accident, contact the team at Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC for more information on your rights and what you can do to get the compensation you need to cover your medical expenses. For a risk-free consultation contact us at 337-800-8800 today.
From jam-packed, party lined streets flooded with locals and tourists alike to solemn stretches of beautiful rural countryside, Louisiana is a unique and diverse state. Unfortunately, the same features that make Louisiana unique are also the features that make it one of the most dangerous states for impaired driving. Multi-vehicle crashes involving a drunk driver are more likely to take place in major cities, while single-vehicle drunk driving accidents are more likely on rural stretches of highway. Local media and data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that in 2018, Louisiana was the 9th most dangerous state in the nation when it came to fatal drunk driving accidents. The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission further substantiates these statistics and found that in 2017, more than 40 percent of motor vehicle crashes in the state were alcohol-related.
Louisiana “Driving While Intoxicated” Laws
In Louisiana driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is referred to as OWI or operating under the influence. In other parts of the United States, it is sometimes more commonly referred to as a DWI or driving while intoxicated. An individual can be charged with an OWI for operating any type of motor vehicle, aircraft, boat, or watercraft under the following conditions:
- A blood alcohol content or BAC of .08 percent or higher
- While under the influence of a drug or controlled substance and/or alcohol
- While under the influence of a legal drug, either over-the-counter or prescription medication
Louisiana also follows what is known as an “implied consent” law. If a law enforcement official suspects that a person is impaired, the officer can request that the individual submits to a breath, blood, or urine test to determine BAC. Under the implied consent law, a driver that refuses to submit to the test can face the immediate seizure of their driver’s license and a one-year license suspension. If an individual has a prior refusal to submit on their record within the past 10 years, their driver’s license will be suspended for two years. If a person racks up a third refusal the driver can then face criminal penalties.
Penalties for DWI in Louisiana
Louisiana takes a tough stand on drivers that break the law and drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A conviction for OWI may result in jail time, fines, court fees, license suspension, and probation. The penalties escalate depending on the severity of the case, the circumstances of an accident, and whether a driver has previous OWI convictions on their record. While all cases are different, in general, a driver convicted of an OWI can face the following combination of consequences:
- 1st Offense
- 10 days to 6 months in jail
- Fines between $300 to $1000
- 2nd Offense
- 30 days to 6 months in jail
- Fines between $750 to $1,000
- 3rd Offense- Felony Offense
- 1 to 5 years in prison
- Fines of $2,000
A judge may opt to limit or even set aside jail time in certain situations in favor of probation. The terms of probation may also require an individual to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. This device acts as a breathalyzer that won’t allow the car to start until the individual blows into the device and alcohol is not detected.
Probation is never an option for those individuals that have prior OWI convictions, or individuals that were caught transporting a child under the age of 13 while under the influence. Drivers convicted of an OWI with a BAC of .15 percent or higher must serve a mandatory 48 hours in jail for a first offense. A first offense OWI also results in a one-year license suspension.
It is reassuring to know that Louisiana law takes driving under the influence seriously and will penalize drivers convicted of OWI. However, if you have been the victim of a drunk driving accident, you may also feel like you are being penalized.
Being seriously injured and stuck with enormous medical bills can make you feel trapped. While law enforcement and prosecutors handle the criminal aspects of penalizing a drunk driver, victims need their own attorney, an attorney that will help them fight to recover financial compensation following an accident. Drunk drivers may have criminal penalties to worry about, but they could also have civil cases filed against them.
Civil Action and Compensation for DWI Accidents
There are several different ways that a victim may go about seeking compensation following an accident with a drunk driver. Individuals injured in an OWI accident have the legal right to pursue civil court action against the responsible driver. This litigation is a civil action, not a criminal case.
A civil suit is meant to secure compensation from the at-fault party to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. It is not a means to penalize a drunk driver, it is simply one legal method available to help victims secure the compensation they are entitled to following a serious accident. If the individual is also convicted in a criminal court of an OWI, that can help bolster a victim’s civil case.
Louisiana is considered an “at-fault” state, meaning the party responsible for causing the accident is the party responsible for compensating victims of the accident. In an at-fault state, a victim may be able to seek compensation through a lawsuit as mentioned above. They could also decide to seek compensation instead from their own auto insurance company or the auto insurance company of the at-fault driver.
Unfortunately, many victims injured in a drunk driving case think that going through the insurance company is a “sure thing.” It isn’t. Insurance companies want to keep their profits in their bank, not in your wallet. Even in the case of drunk driving accidents, they may try to offer victims less than what they deserve.
Louisiana is also a “pure comparative negligence” state. This Louisiana regulation stipulates that the amount of damages a victim is allowed to recover can be decreased by the percentage fault they bear for the accident. If an insurance company manipulates your statements or doesn’t fully investigate the accident, they can try to pin partial blame on you, the victim, thus reducing the amount of money they have to pay you.
Securing the services of an experienced attorney is the best way to ensure that you are protecting your legal rights and maximizing the amount of compensation you may be able to receive. An attorney will be able to advise you on your best course of action, whether that be an insurance claim or a civil lawsuit.
While every situation is unique, in general, a victim may be able to recover compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Future loss of earnings
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
Injuries from OWI Accidents
It can be a struggle for victims to recover from the immense physical damage that a collision with a drunk driver can cause. Drugs and alcohol slow down reaction time, impair rational thinking and judgment, cause vision problems, and generally impact all physical and mental capabilities.
Typically, drunk drivers are more prone to causing rear-end collisions, head-on collisions, wrong-way accidents, and pedestrian accidents. These types of collisions often cause the most serious types of injuries. In general, these are some of the more common injuries that are seen in drunk driving accidents:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Neck and spine injuries
- Fractured bones
- Chest and rib injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Wrongful death
Contact an Experienced Driving While Intoxicated Attorney
Whether in the courtroom or at the negotiating table, an attorney is your personal advocate, fighting to get you the compensation you deserve. At Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC our skilled drunk driving accident attorneys will review the circumstances of your case, investigate the accident, and work with you to recover compensation for your injuries. We have years of valuable experience; let us put that experience to work for you.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a drunk driving accident contact Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC to review your legal options. We offer a free initial consultation, risk-free. Call to schedule yours today by dialing 337-800-8800. You don’t pay us a cent until we help you win your case.