North Carolina Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys
Dr Tammy Reed, Emergency Room Trauma Physician
Tammy was hit by a drunk Driver, in a stolen vehicle, that was high on cocaine. The other driver was a 33 year old career criminal that had been arrested 43 times, with no insurance or assets.
More than 10,000 people die on American highways and roads in alcohol-related accidents each year, according to the CDC. That's 29 deaths in alcohol-related accidents every day, approximately one every 50 minutes. In North Carolina, approximately one-third of all traffic fatalities are linked to alcohol-impaired drivers. While the number of these accidents and the resulting injuries and fatalities continue to decline every year, even one death or one injury is too many.
Everyone knows it's wrong to drive after having a drink or two, but every day thousands of otherwise-responsible Americans get behind the wheel of a vehicle when they are impaired. They don't mean to do harm; they just aren't thinking clearly. However, the reality is that thousands of people die and are injured as a result of this dangerous decision every year. It changes the accident victim's life forever as well as the intoxicated driver's...and the lives of both of their families.
At Nagle and Associates, we are passionate about holding drunk drivers fully responsible to their victims. That's why we work solely for those hurt in such accidents and don't defend the ones who were driving drunk.
Impaired driving laws
North Carolina law defines a driver as being impaired if he or she is at least 21 years old and has a blood alcohol level that is greater than .08. If the person is driving a commercial vehicle, such as a taxicab or a truck, the legal limit is .04. (There is zero tolerance for alcohol in drivers younger than age 21.) It is also against North Carolina state law to drive with any amount of a schedule I controlled substance in your blood.
One other body of law to consider is the North Carolina Exemplary Damages Act. These laws allow a victim of “willful and wanton conduct” to collect additional money damages typically known as punitive damages. NC punitive damage laws are rather limited, and many judges look for multiple DWI offenses before these claims are allowed. Thus, our firm always looks at the criminal record for the impaired driver along with other wrongful conduct so we can present additional claims for punitive damages against impaired drivers.
What to do if you are in an alcohol-related accident
- Seek medical attention if needed. The first thing to do after any traffic accident is to assess the injuries of those in the vehicles involved in the accident and to call for medical assistance if needed. Keep in mind that some injuries aren't visible, so it's always best to err on the side of caution. Seeking thorough medical care puts your health first, and the records documenting your course of treatment are valuable evidence in the injury case against the drunk driver.
- Call the police and report the accident. The next thing you need to do if you've been in an accident involving alcohol (or any accident) is to report the accident to the police. Law enforcement will determine if the driver is impaired by administering a field sobriety test and other tests to measure the level of alcohol or other controlled substance in the driver's bloodstream.
- Take notes at the scene. If you are able, it's a good idea to take down the names of witnesses at the scene, and the names of officers and emergency personnel who assist at the crash site. You may also want to note what makes you suspect that alcohol played a part in the accident (e.g. you smelled alcohol on the driver's breath, he/she had slurred speech, etc.).
- Take pictures. Only if you are physically able, it is wise to take a few pictures at the scene of the accident. You'll particularly want to document the damage to all vehicles, any skid marks on the highway and any physical damage to the surrounding properties (broken mailbox, etc.). Be tactful when doing this – insurance companies often note that the crash victim is taking photos, and they use this fact to accuse the victim of being money-hungry and immediately working to create insurance claims.Contact an attorney. If you suspect that alcohol was a contributing factor in your car accident, it's important to contact an attorney quickly. Not only is there a time limit for filing law suits in such situations, but it's vital that the attorney has access to the criminal evidence (breathalzyer results, witness statements, the accident report, any physical evidence from the scene) while it is still fresh and before it can become mislaid or lost in the system.
Who is responsible?
The liability for injuries or a death in an alcohol-related car accident may spread further than just the driver. We may be able to file suit against a bar or restaurant owner who "over-served" a customer or who served alcohol to a minor, resulting in his or her driving impaired. Or, the host of a party where the driver was drinking may be held partially responsible for the accident. We might even be able to sue the driver's employer, if the driver was drinking at a company-sanctioned event like a holiday party or annual picnic. If someone loaned the driver their vehicle, knowing they were drunk at the time, they, too, may be held responsible.
There may also be multiple insurance policies that cover the impaired driver. For example, if the drunk driver was in a borrowed vehicle, the liability insurance on that vehicle provides coverage for victims claims and the drunk driver’s own personal auto policy provides additional/excess liability coverage. Also, if the drunk driver’s policy is insufficient to cover your claims, we may also be able to access underinsured motorist coverage to add additional cash benefits to your settlement. In North Carolina, UIM coverage is stackable – meaning we can collect benefits from multiple policies including the car insurance policy on the car you were riding in, your own car insurance policy, plus all family owned car insurance policies in your household on the crash date.
Working with Nagle and Associates
If you or someone you care about has been injured in an alcohol-related traffic accident, we can help. We understand that this is a very stressful time, a time when you'd prefer to be taking care of your health and your family, not dealing with court filings, witnesses and judges. That's where we come in. Our experienced team of drunk driving accident attorneys have the training and the contacts to get you and your family the money you need to pay your medical bills and lost wages, and pay you an additional lump-sum tax free payment for your pain, suffering and lost quality-of-life.
Remember: the insurance claims adjuster represents the drunk driver who caused your accident, and they are working solely to minimize your injury claims. Please don’t trust the insurance adjuster who is being paid to oppose your claims. Former claims adjuster Carl Nagle stands ready to help you confront the drunk driver and their insurance carriers, and at Nagle and Associates, your welfare and that of your family is our only priority. We look out for your interests, so you can relax and concentrate on healing from your accident.
Highways accidents that involve drugs and alcohol are somewhat different from other types of traffic accidents. Call us today at (800) 411-1583 to speak with a personal injury attorney right now. We will describe your legal rights and options and if you choose to hire us, there is no up-front legal fee, we are paid only if and when we collect money for you, and we can even meet with you at your home if this helps to get your case started.