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Waukegan drunk driving accident attorneysDriving under the influence of alcohol is against the law in all 50 U.S. states, but, unfortunately, many people choose to drive while intoxicated anyway. Sadly, nearly 30 people die every day in the U.S. in alcohol-related traffic accidents and many more are seriously injured. If you have been injured or you have lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you explore your options for compensation.  

When is an Intoxicated Driver At-Fault for an Accident?

The majority of personal injury claims involve a party who was negligent or reckless in some way. It is typically up to the claimant and his or her attorney to prove that the responsible party’s negligence caused the claimant’s damages. However, in most drunk driving accidents, the intoxicated driver faces criminal DUI charges and could be presumed to have been negligent. If the person who hit you was arrested, charged with, and convicted of DUI, the presumption is created that the driver was acting negligently. You will only need to prove that he or she violated a public safety statute that is intended to protect you and that this violation caused your injuries. It is important to note that a successful personal injury claim is still possible even if the driver was not formally charged with driving under the influence.

What Types of Damages Can I Collect?

The term “damages” is used to describe the compensation awarded to injured people and their families in a personal injury case. If you were seriously hurt in a drunk driving accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your emergency room/hospital bills, ongoing and future medical treatment, lost income, reduced employability, pain and suffering, and more. If you have lost a loved one in a car accident caused by an intoxicated driver, you may be able to receive compensation for your loved one’s medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, pain and suffering, as well as compensation for your own losses.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_st-patricks-day-drunk-driving-dangers.jpgIn just over two weeks, thousands of Illinois residents will flock to pubs and bars to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Unfortunately, some of these revelers will inevitably choose to drive home under the influence of alcohol. Because St. Patrick’s Day is one of the biggest drinking days of the year in many communities, it is also one of the most dangerous days to be on the road. Sadly, it is estimated that a person loses his or her life in an alcohol-related car accident every 37 minutes on St. Patrick’s Day and countless more are injured. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reminds St. Patrick’s Day partiers to arrange for a designated driver, taxi, rideshare, or other safe means of transportation if they plan on drinking.

Personal Injury Claims Against a Drunk Driver

People involved in drunk driving accidents may suffer broken bones, spine and neck injuries, traumatic brain injuries, internal organ damage, and more. These injuries can leave a person with enormous hospital bills and ongoing medical costs. The injured person may even be permanently disabled and never regain the quality of life he or she had before the accident. When a drunk driver causes an accident and someone is hurt or killed, a personal injury claim may help the injured person or surviving loved ones collect compensation for their damages. Civil claims for damages can be brought in concurrence with criminal DUI charges.

Dram Shop Liability Laws in Illinois

Illinois law also allows a person hurt in a drunk driving accident to pursue a claim against the bar or other establishment that served the drunk driver alcohol. Successful dram shop liability claims can be difficult to achieve, but they are possible. Four main conditions must be present in order for an injured person to receive compensation through a dram shop claim:

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Lake County personal injury attorneysMarijuana has several substantial effects on a user’s body and mind. Depending on the amount of cannabis smoked or otherwise consumed, the drug may cause impaired judgment, reduced coordination, and slowed reflexes. These effects can significantly impair a person’s ability to safely drive. On January 1, 2020, Illinois legalized the recreational consumption and use of cannabis. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident caused by a driver who was under the influence of marijuana, you may wonder what your options for compensation are now that cannabis is legal.

Drugged Driving Laws in Illinois

When most people think of driving under the influence (DUI), they assume the intoxicating substance is alcohol. However, driving drunk is not the only way a person can be charged with a DUI in Illinois. It is also against Illinois law to drive or be in physical control of a vehicle if:

  • There is a controlled substance in the driver's body.
  • A driver's blood contains a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of five nanograms per milliliter or more. THC is the main psychoactive substance in cannabis.
  • Another bodily substance (such as saliva) contains a THC concentration of ten nanograms per milliliter or more.
  • A driver is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs to an extent that leaves him or her unable to drive safely.

The legalization of recreational marijuana does not negate the laws prohibiting drugged driving. Even though it is now legal to purchase and use cannabis in Illinois, a person can still be guilty of a criminal offense for driving under the influence of cannabis.

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Lake County personal injury attorneysThe vast majority of personal injury cases revolve around the concept of negligence. The term "negligence" refers to a party’s failure to act with an appropriate level of care. Anyone driving on public roads has a duty to drive responsibility and avoid injuring other drivers or pedestrians. An individual who drives with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more is breaking the law by driving under the influence (DUI). If a drunk driver causes an accident in which someone was injured or killed, the driver can be considered “negligent per se” and held legally responsible for the damages caused by the accident.

Understanding Negligence Per Se

In a typical personal injury claim, the injured individual and his or her legal counsel have the burden of proving how the defendant’s actions or inactions caused the injury. Generally, to win a personal injury case, the plaintiff must show:

  • The defendant had a “duty of care” to the injured person.
  • The defendant failed to uphold the duty of care.
  • The plaintiff was injured.
  • The plaintiff’s injury was caused by the defendant’s failure to uphold his or her duty.

Personal injury claims involving illegal actions like driving under the influence of alcohol are slightly different. “Negligence per se” refers to actions which are negligent because they break the law. If you bring a personal injury claim under the umbrella of negligence per se, you must only prove that that defendant broke the law and that the violation of the law caused your injury. Under the doctrine of negligence per se, a defendant is considered negligent if the following elements are present:

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Lake County DUI lawyerUnderage drinking tends to rise in May and June due to graduation parties and other celebrations that mark the end of the school year. Unfortunately, intoxicated minors often make risky choices, which can result in catastrophic injuries from falls or car crashes. These young people may injure not only themselves but also other people, particularly in drunk driving accidents. These accidents can cause substantial financial and emotional damage as well as physical injury. Everyone looks for someone to hold liable for these damages.  

Most people have heard of dram shop laws, which make a licensed liquor seller who overserves a visibly intoxicated customer financially liable for injuries caused by that impaired customer, typically in a drunk driving crash.

What many people do not realize is that Illinois also has a set of social host liability laws that apply to parents and other adults. In specific situations, an adult who contributes to the impairment of a minor by alcohol or illegal drugs can be held liable for injuries resulting from that minor’s impairment.

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