CHICAGO DUI ACCIDENT LAWYER
Chicago Drunk Driving Lawyer
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 29 people in the United States die every day due to drunk driving. This adds up to thousands of alcohol related traffic fatalities every year. Tragically, thousands more Americans suffer catastrophic injuries from alcohol related accidents. The negative consequences caused by those who choose to drive drunk are often devastating for not only themselves, but others who share the roads with them. If you suffered life-threatening injuries from a drunk driver in Chicago, you have grounds to hire a drunk driving lawyer at Curcio Law Offices and sue for your damages.
Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys are committed to holding drunk drivers accountable for their actions and for your injuries. Since our founding in 1957, we have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for injured clients, including many whose lives were forever changed by drunk driving crashes. Call our law firm today at 312-321-1111 to schedule a free consultation.
How Many Drunk Driving Deaths Happen Every Year?
More than 11,600 drunk driving fatalities occurred in the U.S. in 2020 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This number of drunk driving deaths represents a 14% increase since 2019.
Drunk driving deaths are always tragic. But they’re even more tragic when the deaths are teens and young adults. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claims that alcohol impaired driving is the leading cause of death for teens. In 2020, 29% of drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 who were killed by alcohol impaired driving had BACs that exceeded .01 g/dL.
Illinois Drunk Driving Statistics
In Illinois specifically, 625 people died due to alcohol related crashes in 2020. Meanwhile, 441 people died who had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 or higher. This could be considered “buzzed driving” for some people. Lastly, 752 people died from car crashes that didn’t involve alcohol. In total, 1,194 Illinois traffic fatalities occurred in 2020 according to data from the NHTSA.
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limit in Illinois
Every single U.S. state has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of .08. This is called the “per se” BAC level. This means that the person is definitely drunk by law and police officers don’t need any other evidence to issue a DUI conviction. Everyone has different alcohol tolerances and feels different at a certain BAC level. So a person may feel relatively sober enough to get behind the wheel with a BAC level of .08, but it doesn’t matter. Only BAC level matters when it comes to intoxicated driving. The law considers a BAC level of .08 as impaired driving.
With a BAC level of .08 or higher, impaired drivers may experience:
- Slower reaction time
- Impaired judgment
- Slowed thinking
- Reduced ability to stay in one lane
- Poor coordination
- Impaired perception
- Poor muscle control
- Slurred speech
- Swimmy vision
- Poor balance
With symptoms like this, it’s difficult to maintain vehicle control, maintain proper speed, see potential dangers on the roads, and react in time to dangers on the roads.
Many states also have a “zero tolerance” BAC level of .02, which is often considered buzzed driving. In Illinois, however, the zero tolerance BAC level is .00. Zero tolerance laws are also known as minimum drinking age laws. This means that if you’re under the age of 21 and you’re caught driving with even a little bit of alcohol in your system, you can receive a DUI conviction. In Illinois, if you’re underage drinking and you’re caught with a BAC level of more than .00, then you could be charged with alcohol impaired driving.
What is the Implied Consent Law?
The Implied Consent Law states that when you obtain a driver’s license, you’re basically giving implied consent to undergo a sobriety test if an officer suspects that you’re driving under the influence of alcohol. If an alcohol impaired driver refuses to undergo a sobriety test, they could suffer a suspended license for 6 to 12 months. All 50 states enforce the Implied Consent Law because many alcohol impaired drivers tend to refuse sobriety tests.
Common Injuries From a Drunk Driving Accident
Some motor vehicle crashes involving alcohol only result in minor car damage. But most drunk driving accidents leave victims with a moderate to serious injury. If you suffered one or more of the injuries listed below in an alcohol related crash, you need a Chicago drunk driving lawyer on your side.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) such as a concussion
- Back or spinal cord injury
- Neck injury, such as whiplash
- One or more amputations
- Loss of fetus
- Partial or complete paralysis
- Loss of vision or hearing
- One or multiple broken bones
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Major burns, bruising, scarring, and lacerations
- Seat Belt Syndrome
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Wrongful death
Should I Pursue Legal Action if I Was Hit by a Drunk Driver in Chicago?
If you’ve been hit and injured because someone was driving drunk, it’s important that you hire a Chicago drunk driving lawyer as soon as possible. Our team of drunk driving attorneys understand Illinois DUI laws and how to negotiate with car insurance companies so that you can receive appropriate financial compensation.
Not only will your Chicago drunk driving accident attorney help you get the maximum amount of compensation possible for your injuries, but they will also handle all the legal complexities that come with a drunk driving injury case. That way, all you have to do is focus on fully recovering from your car accident. For example, we will conduct a thorough investigation of the accident scene and gather all evidence that proves that the actions of the intoxicated driver were the direct cause of your injuries.
Do Insurance Companies Pay for Drunk Driving Accidents?
Assuming the drunk driver carries insurance, an injured plaintiff can file a DWI injury claim with the intoxicated driver’s insurance. This type of claim essentially demands compensation for the damages the victim suffered as a result of the drunk driver. Damages may include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
On the other hand, whether a car insurance company pays for their own client’s drunk driving accident damages depends on what was established in their policy agreement. There are some cases where the car insurance company will cover their client’s damages, while other times they may deny coverage because their client engaged in illegal alcohol impairment on the roads. Additionally, most drunk drivers experience increased car insurance rates, whether or not they injured or killed someone due to their impaired driving.
How a Criminal DUI Case Could Affect a Personal Injury Claim in Illinois
A DUI accident differs from most car accidents because there are often criminal charges brought against drunk drivers. The outcome of a criminal case does not always dictate the outcome of a civil case, though.
In civil court cases such as personal injury claims, drunk driving accident attorneys can use the same evidence from a criminal case. However, the standard of proof required to establish liability is much lower than that for a criminal case. This means that a defendant may be declared innocent in a criminal case, but an Illinois court may force the intoxicated driver to pay damages to the victim in a civil case.
While an innocent verdict in a criminal case doesn’t always entail another innocent verdict in a civil case, a guilty verdict in a criminal case will likely bring a guilty verdict in a civil case. This is because criminal convictions for alcohol impaired crashes can add additional strength to personal injury lawsuits.
What To Do if a Drunk Driving Accident Results in Wrongful Death
Alcohol related fatal crashes do not warrant personal injury lawsuits because the victim isn’t injured, they’re deceased. In cases like this, close family members could file a wrongful death lawsuit against the drunk driver. Wrongful death lawsuits are basically personal injury cases but for deceased individuals. The goal would be for the loved ones to recover financial compensation for the damages suffered on behalf of the deceased victim.
The legal team at Curcio Law Offices takes drunk driving fatalities very seriously, especially in wrongful death cases. We know that no amount of money can reverse the tragic loss of life from alcohol related crashes. However, appropriate compensation can help the loved ones left behind to cope with medical bills, lost wages, and so much more. Allow our top-notch wrongful death attorneys to obtain justice on behalf of your deceased loved one.
Illinois Dram Shop Laws
Maybe you’re wondering: a bar over-served the drunk driver who hurt me. Can I sue the bar?
Yes, drunk driving accident victims are able to sue the bar or establishment that overserved the driver responsible for their injuries. This may be done on the grounds of Illinois dram shop laws.
Unlike most other states with dram laws, Illinois does not require that the establishment knowingly or negligently overserved the customer. According to Illinois’ Dram Shop Act, found in the 235 ILCS 5/6-21, a drunk driving accident lawyer only needs to prove that the establishment served the drunk driver. They must also prove that the driver operated a vehicle while his or her BAC exceeded .08 and that their impaired driving caused the victim’s injuries.
To successfully sue the establishment, the plaintiff must be able to prove three things:
- The vendor (bar) served alcohol to the liable party.
- The alcohol sold by the vendor caused or at least contributed to the driver’s intoxication.
- The intoxication was the direct cause of the car crash and therefore, the plaintiff’s injuries.
Damages for a Chicago Drunk Driving Accident
If you decide to pursue legal action against the drunk driver or the driver’s alcohol vendor, you could receive compensation for damages if you win your car accident case. In some cases you may be able to receive compensation for wrongful death from a car accident.
Examples of damages that could result in compensation include but aren’t limited to:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity if the victim suffers permanent disability from the crash that prevents them from performing their normal job duties
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
In some cases, an experienced attorney at Curcio Law Offices may push for punitive damages as well. Because drunk driving accidents normally involve gross negligence, accident victims should hold drunk drivers accountable for operating a vehicle when his or her BAC was over the legal limit.
Drunk Driving Prevention
We all see the tragic drunk driving statistics year after year. The best way to decrease drunk driving fatalities is through responsible drinking. Remember these tips before a night of drinking, because you don’t want to be part of those heartbreaking drunk driving statistics.
- Always have a sober driver (AKA: a designated driver) with you when you go to a party or a bar.
- If one of your friends is trying to drive themselves home after a night of heavy drinking, stop them. Take their keys and find a sober driver.
- Similarly, do not allow yourself to engage in alcohol impaired driving. Be sure that you have a designated driver lined up before you go to a party or a bar.
- If you’re the party host, keep an eye out for your guests. Be sure that everyone goes home with a designated driver.
- Seatbelts are crucial for preventing traffic deaths. So every time you and your friends get in the car, make sure everyone is buckled up. In many cases, seatbelts are your only defense if a drunk driver hits you.