Few tragedies in life are worse than losing a loved one in a drunk driving accident, or sustaining a life-altering injury. The anger is palpable, since every motorist knows or is expected to know that driving while intoxicated or under the influence (DUI) is illegal and extremely dangerous. Like all other states, you may not legally drive a car in Massachusetts if your blood alcohol level (BAC) is at least 0.08%. At this level, you are presumed to be alcohol impaired, regardless of why you were stopped. You can still be under the influence if your BAC is below that if the alcohol impaired your judgment or driving conduct. For drivers under the age of 21, Massachusetts law provides a zero tolerance level, meaning that you may not drive without any percentage of alcohol in your blood. At any one time, the Centers on Disease Control (CDC) and other highway safety organizations report that about one in 12 of drivers on the roadway are alcohol-impaired. This percentage goes up appreciably at night to one in 6 and as high as 1 in 4 after 11 p.m. in some urban areas. This means that your chances of being involved in drunk driving accidents are fairly high and that at night, you must be especially vigilant not only about your own drinking but for drunk drivers on the road. In 2011, there were nearly 10,000 fatalities related to drunk driving, or about 30% of all traffic related deaths. For teens, over 20% of those killed in car accidents were as a result of teen drinking. Young drivers tend to be more reckless than adults and speed or tailgate more often. They also have the lowest rate of seat belt use.
Injuries from Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk driving accidents can be horrific since many occur from cars operating at high speeds or that run traffic lights. Injuries that can result include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Broken or badly mangled limbs
- Limb amputation
- Spinal cord injuries including paralysis
Obviously, the intoxicated motorist when driving negligently is responsible for your injuries and damages. If the driver was a teenager, the law’s zero tolerance provision means that the teen motorist is negligent per se, meaning that you need not prove any negligent conduct by the driver that led to the accident and your injury. However, Massachusetts has a Dram Shop law that can find bar owners liable and private parties also responsible under the state’s Social Host Liability law. Bar owners and private parties may not serve alcohol to minors or be negligent when serving their customers or guests who are obviously intoxicated or whom you know has had numerous alcoholic beverages. These parties can provide additional compensation to injured victims who may only receive minimal or insufficient funds under the motorist’s liability policy.
Damages in Drunk Driving Accidents
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future wage losses
- Emotional trauma
- Pain and suffering
- Lost earning capacity
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Punitive damages can be obtained in drunk driving accidents but only if the victim was fatally injured and the defendant’s conduct must have been grossly negligent. Gross negligence is conduct that amounts to indifference or the absence of even slight diligence or of legal obligations to others. In other words, the person driving did so with little care for the safety of others. If there was a fatality, the decedent’s estate administrator may bring a claim for the decedent’s immediate family and claim, if applicable:
- Any medical expenses incurred if the decedent survived for a time
- Pain and suffering but only if the decedent was conscious following the accident
- Loss of income and financial support
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Loss of love, support and affection
Consult Boston Drunk Driving Attorney Tim Houten Tim Houten has been defending the rights of his clients and prosecuting personal injury claims, including victims of drunk driving accidents, since 1982. An injury or a fatality as a result of an intoxicated driver can substantially change lives and can be a complicated injury claim that requires the attention and handling of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Contact Tim Houten today for a free assessment of your injury claim.