Chicago Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident with a drunk driver on an Illinois roadway, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
While everyone is aware of criminal penalties for drunk driving, there are also means that you can use to hold the driver civilly accountable for the accident that harmed you.
The Chicago drunk driving accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are committed to protecting your legal rights and getting you the compensation you deserve.
Our legal team has years of experience assisting people who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents and look forward to assisting you.
As with all of our cases, we handle Chicago drunk driving crash cases on a contingency fee basis where we only charge legal fees when we are successful in obtaining a recovery on your behalf.
We offer a free consultation via phone, videoconferencing, or at your home.
when it harms an innocent driver and their family.
The Physical Toll of DUI Auto Accidents in Chicago and Across IllinoisIn 2018, there were over 26,000 DUI arrests in Illinois. Nationwide, roughly 30 million people admit to driving after consuming alcohol according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.
In Illinois, there is a "Zero Tolerance" policy for drunk drivers which results in many of them losing their driver's license for a conviction, but this does not help people who have been hurt by drunk drivers.
Drunk driving is a national and local problem that shows no signs of getting any better. Across the United States, over 10,000 people have been killed in accidents with drunk drivers every year since 2009.
More than one out of every four auto accident deaths in the U.S. have alcohol as a factor.
In Illinois, there were 291 fatalities in alcohol-related crashes in 2018 which makes up 29 percent of the auto accident cases in the state.
Within the City of Chicago, IL borders, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) reports that there were 250 injuries and six fatalities related to motor vehicle crashes in 2018.
Civil Lawsuits for Personal Injuries and Wrongful Death-Related to Alcohol-Related Crashes
You would need to initiate your own civil lawsuit against the drunk driver to recover financial compensation.
To do this, you will likely need personal injury attorneys on your side who are familiar with how to file and prosecute a car accident lawsuit involving alcohol impairment.
One of the areas where drunk driving lawsuits are different from a regular car accident lawsuit is the possibility that you may receive punitive damages from the driver. A usual car accident lawsuit may result in the finding that the other driver has been negligent.
In general, this is associated with the idea that they failed to exercise due care while driving on the road. The customary damages are economic and non-economic damages that are intended to put you in the same position as if the accident never happened in the first place.
When a driver's actions are either extremely reckless or even intentional, they may also be hit with punitive damages by a jury under Illinois law.
This is designed to penalize them for actions that are well beyond the range of what is acceptable. These are usually actions that shock the conscience or are extreme in some other way.
Getting behind the wheel with an extremely high blood alcohol content is an example of a shocking action, especially when it harms an innocent driver and their family.
Legal Definition of Driving Under the Influence in IllinoisIn Illinois, the legal limit for blood alcohol level while driving is .08.
Your reactions and driving ability can even diminish with fewer than three drinks. For example, when the blood alcohol level (BAC) is .05, drivers can experience some loss of reflex control and lowered alertness.
Note that one does not have to be legally drunk in order to be impaired by alcohol.
Even for those with lower blood alcohol measures, alcohol can still be a factor in the crash, and evidence of alcohol consumption could still come into play in a drunk driving court case.
In other words, you do not need to be legally drunk to be responsible for alcohol-related injuries.
Why Alcohol-Related Auto Accidents Cause More Serious InjuriesWhen you are the one impacted by a drunk driving accident, the costs can be considerable.
Drunk driving accidents can be worse than a regular car crash because the driver's complete lack of control over the car can result in a crash that can result in catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injury, paralysis, broken bones, or death.
The injuries can be caused by:
- Motorists driving the wrong way on a highway resulting in a head-on crash (In Illinois, driving the wrong way down a one-way road is an aggravating factor in a drunk driving arrest given the level of danger for head-on crashes);
- Drivers operating the car at an excessive rate of speed which increases the risk of serious injury in a crash
- Drivers swerving across the roadway or making dangerous turns that can run you off the road
Damages Available to People Seriously Injured in Chicago DUI Auto AccidentsChicago drunk driving injuries can lead to a number of physical and economic damages.
The State of Illinois estimates that the medical costs to treat an injury sustained in a DUI crash at over $100,000.
In addition to the medical costs to treat injuries, there are also a number of different types of damages available by pursuing a personal injury claim.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, our Chicago car accident attorneys frequently seek the following types of compensatory damages:
- Lost wages for time missed from work both in the past and future. Many drunk driving accident victims are unable to return to work after the accident, especially if they have a physical job.
- Accidents victims can be compensated for their injuries, including pain and suffering, medical expenses (for past and future medical treatment), medical bills, and property damage.
- Spouses who have experienced loss in a drunk driving accident can receive damages for loss of consortium.
- If the motorist is killed in an accident, the family would be able to obtain wrongful death damages.
Potential Defendants in a Chicago Drunk Driving LawsuitAs you will see below, there are numerous possible defendants in a DUI case. In many cases, the plaintiff cannot recover much from the driver because there are policy limits on insurance.
Ideally, those looking to file a DUI lawsuit will be able to find a way to file a lawsuit against a defendant who has deeper pockets than the driver of the vehicle.
Here are some possible defendants in an alcohol-related auto accident:
The driver of the vehicle - Of course, the motorist who was driving under the influence would be liable for the damage that they caused in the accident. The motorist could be liable if they themselves struck the driver or if the injured driver was hit by the police during a chase (assuming that the police acted reasonably during the chase)
The driver's employer - If the driver was in the company car at the time of the accident and was on duty, there is a possible lawsuit against the company that employed the driver since they would be considered to be an agent of their employer. This would not apply if the driver was taking the company car for personal business.
The police department - In some cases, including one described below, the police department could be pursuing the drunk driver when it is not safe to do so. Then, the police would be legally liable for the injuries in the DUI accident, for not conducting a thorough investigation.
The establishment where the drunk motorist was served - In Illinois, as in many states, there is something called "dram shop laws." These Dram Shop laws hold a bar or tavern responsible for injuries caused by the drunk driver. In Illinois, the law does not even require that the establishment knowingly serves an intoxicated patron. The establishment is simply liable for damage caused by their patrons who consume alcohol. These laws only apply to a commercial establishment.
Successfully Resolving a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against an Intoxicated DriverYou would still need to prove negligence, but the other driver is impaired can become a large part of the considerations in court.
Generally, DUI cases will be easier to prove than a regular car accident case. That is because if you are able to prove that the driver was behind the wheel when they were intoxicated, you have taken a very large step to prove that they were negligent.
Usually, one of the main areas of inquiry in a car accident lawsuit is whether the driver failed to uphold the standard of care that is expected of a driver on the road.
This means that they acted in a way that a reasonable driver would not. Driving while under the influence is something that would be considered per se unreasonable.
In order to prove a DUI lawsuit, you will need to demonstrate in court that the driver was under the influence. If their blood alcohol level is over 0.08%, it should not be too difficult to prove your case.
If the other driver had a couple of drinks but did not have a blood alcohol content above the legal limit, they can still be liable, but it would be more difficult to prove.
When it comes to a DUI lawsuit, the question is whether the other driver was under the influence.
The maximum level of 0.08% in Illinois is exactly that; it is the maximum blood alcohol content that is allowable. Amounts under this can still be the grounds for a DUI accident case.
The Presumption That a Drunk Driver Caused the CrashSo long as the driver is so impaired that they could not drive in the same way as a driver of ordinary skill would, they would likely be viewed to be at fault for the accident.
If the driver is drunk and there is a crash, the jury would most likely view the drunk driver to be at fault for it.
However, the usual rules of comparative negligence would still apply. Even if the other driver is impaired, you would also still have an obligation to drive safely and reasonably.
For example, if the other driver was drunk, but you also did something that was unsafe, it could affect your ability to recover for your injuries in court.
If the direct cause of the accident was that you were recklessly speeding, you may not be able to recover even if the other driver was impaired.
This is because of the principles of comparative negligence. In Illinois, this prevents a driver who is more than fifty percent responsible for an accident from recovering for their injuries in court.
Therefore, the way in which you were driving is also something for the jury to consider even if the other driver was drunk.
Filing a Chicago Drunk Driving LawsuitWhile there is no legal requirement to have an attorney represent you, hiring a Chicago car accident lawyer will provide you with the most effective advocacy on your behalf.
If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident you will be dealing with many things after the accident if you are even able to handle anything at all.
Your injuries may prevent you from taking any steps to be compensated for your injuries. This means that you cannot deal with the insurance company and will not be in any position to handle your own claim.
Drunk driving claims may also be hard to value given the extent of the injuries and the fact that the other driver has done something so shocking that may warrant punitive damages.
Your injuries may prevent you from working so that could also add another element that makes your claim difficult to place a value on and open to many different suggestions.
An experienced Chicago personal injury attorney can help you and your family through all stages of the process. They can negotiate your claim with the insurance company and take the case to court if the settlement offer is not enough to compensate you for your injuries.
The attorney will be both your advisor and your legal advocate when you are not effectively able to fight for yourself.
Even if the accident is very clearly the fault of the drunk driver, obtaining the right settlement amount is not always easy.
Sometimes, the most challenging thing about drunk driver cases is getting enough compensation and it is something that you cannot easily do on your own.
Settling Out of CourtYour drunk driving lawsuit case most likely will settle out of court based on the statistics.
An overwhelming majority of DUI accident cases are settled out of court. In most of these cases, the defendant's conduct is so reprehensible that they will not want to end up anywhere close to a jury.
Plaintiffs who are injured in a DUI accident are even more sympathetic to the jury and defendants know that.
Therefore, it is very likely that you will receive a settlement offer before the case is set to go to trial. The insurance company will generally want no part of a DUI trial.
There is too much risk for them because a jury can send a strong message with a high punitive damages award.
In many cases, insurance companies will settle a DUI case that is filed for the policy limit, leaving the plaintiff to look for other sources of damages to fully compensate for their injuries.
Chicago, Illinois Drunk Driving Accident FAQs
What Happens If You Crash a Car While Drunk?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a conviction involving driving under the influence could leave you with a criminal record and expensive fines. The judge might sentence to time in jail or prison, especially if the accident resulted in serious injury or wrongful death.
Your inappropriate drunk driving behavior places others at risk including the passengers in your vehicle and other motorists and passengers sharing the road.
What Time Do Most Drunk Driving Accidents Occur?
Statistics maintained by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed that nearly one of three fatal car accidents involving drunk drivers occur on weekends. This highest incident rate of drunk driving accidents occurs from 12:00 AM to 3:00 AM.
Drunk driver fatalities are 400% more likely to occur during nighttime hours.
Is Your Insurance Valid If You Are Drunk?
Policy coverage differs between auto insurance carriers concerning drunk driving. Likely, the insurance company will pay for all property damage, injuries, medical expenses and wrongful death you inflicted on others to ensure they are compensated for their losses.
However, your insured or could refuse to cover your injury and repair claims citing that you violated policy rules by driving while intoxicated you.
How Long do You Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against an Intoxicated Driver?
In Illinois you have two years to file a lawsuit against and intoxicated driver to recover compensation for personal injuries or wrongful death. If you are bringing a claim under the Illinois Dram Shop Act, you have one year to file a lawsuit.
Your failure to comply with the statute of limitation will forever bar your recovery.
A Chicago Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Can Help. Call Now.
The car accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Law are here to help you if you or a family member has been injured in a Chicago drunk driving accident.
If you or a loved one was seriously injured due to the negligent acts of a drunk driver in Chicago, our trial attorneys can help you in getting the maximum compensation allowable under Illinois law.
Our accident lawyers work on contingency, meaning that we are not paid unless you are successful in receiving compensation. If we do not win, you owe us nothing.
Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free case evaluation to discuss your personal injury case and how we can help you or your family member with the legal process.
Our attorneys currently represent clients throughout the United States, Illinois, and the Chicago area including Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, Will County, Aurora, Chicago, Cicero, Elgin, Naperville, and Schaumburg.