Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers in West Virginia
West Virginia has aggressively combated the problem of drunk driving. Our state has passed new laws, increased DUI-focused patrols and stepped up efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving.
Still, drunk driving accidents continue to happen. Too many people just don't get the message.
Indeed, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports, drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher that are involved in deadly crashes are 4.5 times more likely to have prior DWI convictions.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a auto accident caused by a drunk driver, you have the right to seek justice and to pursue compensation for your losses. You can also send a strong message that drunk driving should never be tolerated in our state.
The lawyers of Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC, are here to help you.
We can bring to your case our extensive experience with handling car accident claims on behalf of victims and their families in Charleston and throughout West Virginia. The three partners at our firm are each members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the MultiMillion Dollar Advocates Forum, an elite, invitation-only group of the top achieving injury lawyers in the nation.
When you are ready to take action, call or reach us online. We can provide a free consultation today.
Injury and Fatality Statistics for Drunk Driving Accidents
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that drunk drivers in our country kill:
- One person every 51 minutes
- 30 people each day.
In fact, almost one-third of all vehicle-related fatalities in the U.S. involve a driver who was impaired by alcohol at the time of the accident.
Drunk driving is a serious problem in West Virginia as well. Recent NHTSA statistics indicate that 31 percent of the traffic fatalities in our state involve drivers who were drinking, with roughly one-fifth of the state's traffic deaths involving drivers with a BAC of 0.15 or above.
In recent years, we have made progress in the fight against drunk driving in West Virginia and across the country. For instance, the NHTSA reports that drunk driving-related traffic deaths decreased by 24 percent, nationally, between 2006 and 2015. Still, more clearly needs to be done to make our roads safer.
Can You Sue a Drunk Driver for Causing Your Accident in West Virginia?
One way to join the fight against drunk driving - and to seek compensation for the harm you have suffered - is to bring a civil claim against the driver who caused an accident involving you or your loved one.
If the driver is convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), the driver may face fines, jail and the loss of his or her driver's license. However, those are criminal penalties. You still have the right to bring a separate and distinct civil claim against the driver.
The driver's violation of West Virginia DUI law may establish negligence per se. The driver's negligence would be assumed as a matter of law, and your case would be focused on your damages.
However, even if the driver who hit you is not convicted of DUI, you can still pursue damages through a civil claim that alleges negligence. For instance, the alcohol-impaired driver who caused your crash may have suffered from:
- Blurred vision
- Loss of motor control
- Delayed reaction time
- Poor judgment.
At Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC, we know how to investigate drunk driving cases. We can gather evidence, work with investigators and consult with experts to establish the role that a driver's drug or alcohol impairment played in causing the crash that has impacted your life.
The reality is that few acts are as reckless as driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. When a person makes the decision to drive after drinking any amount of alcohol, that person can and should be held accountable through our civil justice system.
Can You Sue the Party Who Sold Alcohol to the Drunk Driver?
The drunk driver may not be the only one who is held liable in a drunk driving accident claim in West Virginia. Depending on the facts of your case, you may also be able to bring a "dram shop" claim against the bar, store or restaurant that sold alcohol to the driver who harmed you or your loved one.
Under West Virginia law, you typically can bring such a claim if you can show that the establishment sold alcohol to a driver was a minor or who was "physically incapacitated by alcohol" at the time the alcohol was sold. If you can show that this sale of alcohol, in turn, served as a cause of the accident, you may be able to hold that establishment liable.
However, in West Virginia, you cannot bring a claim against a "social host" who provided alcohol to a person who, in turn, caused an accident that injured you or resulted in the death of a loved one.
What Can You Recover in West Virginia Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuit?
A drunk driving accident in West Virginia can result in severe injuries, including brain injury, spinal injury, soft tissue damage, burns and fractures. Our lawyers understand how important it will be for you to seek full and fair compensation.
At Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC, we will carefully gather and analyze the evidence in your case and pursue compensation for your:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost income and diminished future earning ability
- Disfigurement or deformity
- Physical pain and mental anguish.
Additionally, we may pursue punitive damages on your behalf. These damages can be sought if the person who harmed you acted with a conscious, reckless and outrageous indifference to the health, safety and welfare of others." Thus, punitive damages are often appropriate in a case involving a drunk driver.
With punitive damages, the goal is to punish the driver for his or her conduct as well as to deter the driver and others from engaging in the same conduct in the future.
Can You Take Legal Action If a Drunk Driver Killed Your Loved One?
If your loved one died in a crash caused by a drunk driver in West Virginia, you may have the right to pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Under West Virginia law, surviving loved ones may be eligible to pursue damages including, but not limited to:
- Mental anguish
- Sorrow or emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of the decedent's income
- Loss of the decedent's protection, comfort, care, assistance or services
- Medical and hospital expenses related to the decedent's care and treatment prior to succumbing to his or her injuries
- Funeral and burial expenses.
Additionally, in West Virginia, punitive damages may be sought in a wrongful death action that arises after a drunk driving crash.
Our West Virginia Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys Can Help You
Our legal team at Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC, is committed to helping victims and their families to pursue just compensation and to move on with their lives after an accident caused by an alcohol- or drug-impaired driver.
We serve clients in Charleston and throughout West Virginia. Our Charleston WV car crash attorneys are ready to go to work for you today. Call or reach us online today when you are ready to take legal action. We provide free consultations, and we will charge no fees unless we recover compensation for you.