Can I Recover Damages if I Was Also Intoxicated at the Time of the Accident?

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A lawyer at his desk, holding a pen and resing his hand on a notebook, speaking with a crying female client.Some accidents are unavoidable by the victim no matter what condition they were in at the time. Unfortunately, the harshness of the laws against drunk driving and determining the amount of fault in a collision in North Carolina are often unforgiving.

Possibly one of the harshest laws is the contributory negligence law, according to Forbes.

In most collisions, one driver is at fault for the accident, and the other driver has the right to claim compensation for damages. Contributory negligence prevents this process from happening if the victim of the accident is partially at fault.

Even as little as 1% takes away the victim’s ability to receive compensation. So, if you were also intoxicated at the time of the collision, this impairment may be used to assign part of the blame to you.

Insurance companies are aware of this law and use it to avoid having to pay for their client’s actions. They try to find any reason to blame you for part of the collision, so it is imperative that you are very careful with what you say.

It is best not to discuss the accident with anyone except for your lawyer, and do not talk to the defendant’s insurance company without your lawyer.

To prove that you were also intoxicated at the time of the collision, it must be proven that your blood alcohol content was 0.08 or higher unless you are a commercial driver, in which case it would only have to be 0.04, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

If you are under 21 years old, any level above zero is considered intoxicated.

The defendant could also prove that the intoxication caused you to be impaired, even if you were below the legal limit.

If it is discovered that you are only 1% liable for your own injuries, you will not be able to recover any damages from the defendant or the defendant’s insurance company. However, the defendant would have to prove that your negligence was caused by the intoxication.

There are still some circumstances where this is not possible, and you can defend that your intoxication had nothing to do with the cause of the collision. For example, if the defendant drove through a red light and hit you while you were driving according to the law.

Or if you were stopped at a traffic light and the defendant rear-ended your vehicle, you could be found blameless whether you were intoxicated or not.

Damages You Can Pursue After a Drunk Driving Accident

If you were not at fault for causing any part of the collision, you can claim damages after a drunk driving accident. You can expect to be compensated by the driver or their insurance company to recover your losses from:

  • Medical Expenses
  • Lost Wages
  • Estimated Loss of Future Earnings
  • Rehabilitation Costs
  • Prescription Medication
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Property Damage
  • Wrongful Death

Medical Expenses

You will be fully compensated for all accumulated medical bills along with future medical expenses that you may receive to treat any accident-related injuries.

Be sure to get medical attention as soon as possible after the accident so that you will have documentation linking your injuries to the accident.

Medical expenses can be extensive and include:

  • Transportation by ambulance
  • Emergency department care
  • Diagnostic imaging and diagnosis by the radiologist
  • Labwork
  • Evaluation and treatment by doctors and specialists
  • Hospital stays
  • Surgeries
  • Prescription medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Specialized equipment you now require, such as casting materials, a wheelchair, monitoring devices, etc.

Lost Wages

The time you spend unable to work while recovering from your injuries is time that you are not earning your regular income. You may be using up your allotted sick time or disability, but these often pay a reduced rate and might not last long enough for your recovery. You may lose your job entirely. You should be compensated for these financial losses.

Estimated Loss of Future Earnings

If you have to work at a reduced capacity due to injuries caused by the accident, you can claim your loss of future earnings.

Rehabilitation Costs

Depending on the nature of your injuries, there is a strong possibility that you will require some type of rehabilitation. Physical therapy, chiropractic care, pain management, and psychotherapy are some examples of rehabilitation.

Prescription Medication

The cost of medicines that your doctors prescribe for you because of your accident will be reimbursed. This amount includes the cost of medication you will be required to take long-term as long as it directly results from the accident.

Pain and Suffering

You are also able to claim compensation for non-economic damages.

Common injuries, such as brain and spinal damage, are debilitating and permanent. Some injuries bring permanent scars and humiliation to the victim.

Harm to the victim’s quality of life must be paid for by the defendant.

Harm would include anything the victims can no longer do, such as running, walking, playing with their children, picking up or holding their children, supporting their spouse, or caring for themselves independently.

All pain, the reduction of your enjoyment of life, and emotional distress will receive a value for your compensation.

Property Damage

Your vehicle and whatever property you had with you that was damaged during the accident will be added up for the cost of repair, replacement, or any reduction in value.

Wrongful Death

The family of victims who were killed by a drunk driver can file a claim for wrongful death. If convicted, the defendant will have to pay monetary compensation to the family or dependents.

The defendant will likely face homicide charges in criminal court as well. Do not forget that the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims states that they must be filed within two years of the victim’s death.

Punitive Damages

Not all cases warrant punitive damages as they are held for the most reckless of drivers. They are meant to punish the driver and to set an example to discourage others from committing the same acts.

In order to receive punitive damages, it would have to be proven that the defendant acted with reckless disregard for everyone’s safety. For example, they acted maliciously and collided with your vehicle on purpose, were racing, or were excessively speeding.

Contact the Heavy Hitters to Get Paid Fast

You can still recover damages from a drunk driving accident if you were also intoxicated, depending on the circumstances of your accident. To know for sure if you have a case, call Tatum & Atkinson for a consultation to discuss the details of your collision.

Filing a claim for damages against an aggressive insurance company may seem daunting at first, but the compensation makes it worth it. A drunk driving accident lawyer will fight this battle for you, so you can relax and focus on your health.

The drunk driving accident lawyers at Tatum & Atkinson will negotiate to get you the best compensation possible and take your claim to court if necessary. You will not pay our attorneys anything until you get paid.

Call us at (800) LAW-0804 for your free consultation to see how we can help you.