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Can You Sue a Drunk Driver in Georgia?

Drunk driving is a serious issue with far-reaching consequences. It not only endangers the life of the driver but also poses a significant risk to other road users. In many cases, innocent lives are damaged or lost due to the reckless actions of a drunk driver. In such instances, understanding one's legal rights becomes a crucial step toward seeking justice. 

In Georgia, the laws are stringent against drunk driving, also known as Driving Under the Influence (DUI). If convicted, offenders face severe penalties, including hefty fines, license suspension, mandatory alcohol education programs, and even imprisonment.  

Georgia also empowers victims of drunk driving accidents to take legal action against the offender. In the following sections, we'll delve deeper into the legal avenues available for those affected by drunk driving incidents in Georgia. 

Yes, You Can Sue a Drunk Driver. Here Are Your Options.  

If you've been a victim of a drunk driving incident, one of your immediate options is to file an insurance claim. You can file a claim through your own insurance company or the drunk driver's insurer. Following the accident, you should:  

  • Notify your insurance company about the accident as soon as you can.  

  • Provide all pertinent information, such as photographs, police reports, medical reports, and witness testimonies, as evidence to your insurer.  

It's important to note that insurance companies can be challenging to deal with and may attempt to settle the claim for less than what it's worth. Therefore, having an experienced attorney to navigate through this process can be highly beneficial. 

Another route to obtain compensation is filing a civil lawsuit. If the insurance settlement does not cover your expenses or damages, you can pursue compensation by filing a personal injury claim. You must file a civil suit in Georgia within two years of the incident.  

In a personal injury lawsuit against a drunk driver, victims can seek several different types of damages to compensate for their losses. These can include: 

  • Medical expenses. These cover costs for hospital stays, surgeries, doctor's visits, medication, rehabilitation, and any future medical care due to the accident. 

  • Lost wages. If the accident caused you to miss work, you could seek compensation for your lost income during that period. 

  • Loss of earning capacity. If the injuries you sustained in the accident affect your ability to earn a living in the future, you can claim compensation for this loss. 

  • Pain and suffering. This refers to the physical pain and emotional distress you've endured as a result of the accident. 

  • Punitive damages. In cases where the driver's actions were particularly reckless, such as driving while heavily intoxicated, the court may award punitive damages to punish the driver and deter similar behavior in the future. 

If you decide to pursue civil action, you must collect evidence proving that you suffered damages because of the other driver's (or the liable party's) actions and that their actions violated their duty of care to you. Evidence that can be pivotal for your case can include:  

  • photos,  

  • videos,  

  • witness testimonies, and  

  • police reports.  

You should also consult with an attorney experienced in drunk driving cases as soon as possible. They will guide you in filing a complaint, a legal document that outlines your claims against the drunk driver, in the appropriate court. Following this, the discovery phase commences, where both sides exchange information and evidence regarding the case. 

Should the case proceed to trial, you will need to present your evidence and argue your case before a judge or jury. They will determine if the defendant is responsible for your injuries and if so, the amount of compensation you are due. This process could be complex and time-consuming, hence the need for legal counsel. 

Suing a Drunk Driver If They Killed a Family Member 

If a drunk driver causes the death of your loved one in an accident, you can file a wrongful death claim. In Georgia, a wrongful death claim can be filed when a person dies due to the negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal actions of another person or entity.  

This legal action seeks compensation for the full value of the deceased's life, which includes economic and non-economic factors. Economic factors might include the deceased's lost wages and benefits, while non-economic factors could encompass elements such as companionship and care. 

As per Georgia law, the right to file a wrongful death claim is generally granted to the surviving spouse of the deceased. If there is no surviving spouse, the right to file the claim passes to the surviving children. If there are neither a surviving spouse nor children, the parents of the deceased, or the representative of the deceased's estate, can file the claim. 

Experienced Legal Counsel  

The Dickinson Law Firm represents clients in wrongful death claims as well as DUI accidents. If you or a loved one need help pursuing damages, you can trust our attorneys to advise you of your legal options, calculate your damages, and fight to receive the best possible case results.  

Contact our DUI accident attorneys today to request a free case review. Call (770) 924-8155 today!