Types of Damages in a DUI Accident: What You Need to Know?

Driving impaired by alcohol leads to terrible vehicle crashes that completely change people’s lives forever. Apart from physical injuries, victims of drunk driving accidents endure significant financial challenges, legal complexities, and long-lasting emotional trauma.

The Tragic Reality

Every single day across the United States, about 30 people die because of wrecks involving drunk drivers—that’s almost 11,000 preventable deaths just in one year. These crashes leave behind grieving families and communities struggling to deal with the aftermath.

Serious Injuries

Among the most severe consequences are the serious and often permanent physical injuries that frequently occur in drunk driving collisions. Head trauma, spinal cord damage, broken bones, internal bleeding, and other major injuries frequently require emergency medical treatment and months and months of rehab.

The average financial cost for treating non-dead injuries from drunk driving crashes is over $61,000 per person – and even that huge number does not fully capture the costs of additional surgeries, medications, equipment, and income loss that can go on for a lifetime.

Money Damage Far and Wide

Beyond medical expenses, drunk driving accidents wreak havoc on society’s finances. From vehicle damage, property destruction, insurance claims, and healthcare costs, the total economic loss to the United States caused by drunk driving accidents is estimated at over $44 billion every year.

And for drunk drivers themselves, the fines plus restitution money paid to victims average between $500 and $2,000 just for a first-time offense, depending on the state where it happens. And that’s not even counting how having a DUI conviction on your permanent record hurts your job prospects and paychecks for many years into the future.

Hardships from Legal Penalties

A DUI conviction often means driver’s license suspension, community service work requirements, mandatory alcohol abuse classes, and treatment, installation of an ignition interlock device in your car, and even jail time. A single DUI causes huge financial and legal problems that can negatively affect a person’s life for many, many years.

First-time offenders may face jail sentences ranging from a few nights or weekends to a full six months, again depending on all the details of the incident and the state laws that apply.

Multiple DUI offenses result in even longer jail sentences, typically up to 1 full year locked away for a second DUI offense and even multiple years in prison for someone guilty of driving drunk three or more times.

Part of the legal punishment for a DUI often includes court-ordered probation that lasts anywhere from 1-3 years. Community service requirements after a DUI conviction also hand out big penalties: victims are often ordered to complete anywhere from 10 to 100 hours of unpaid volunteer work in the community. Plus, those ignition interlock devices mandatory for DUI offenders cost between $100-200 per month to install and maintain.

The Possibility of Civil Lawsuits

For victims of drunk driving incidents, the role of a specialized drunk driving accident lawyer is crucial for achieving justice. These lawyers are essential for navigating civil lawsuits against intoxicated drivers, focusing on securing compensation for the victim’s medical expenses, lost wages, and psychological trauma.

Unlike criminal DUI cases, which require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, civil lawsuits only need a preponderance of evidence to establish fault. With the expertise of a drunk driving accident lawyer Myrtle Beach, victims have a significantly better chance of successfully obtaining financial damages in civil court.

If injury victims can successfully prove their cases in civil lawsuits, the court can award compensatory damages (covering actual money losses from the incident) plus extra punitive damages meant to punish drunk drivers and deter future drunk driving behavior.

For DUI crashes resulting in wrongful death, compensation damages in these civil cases may include:

  • Lost income the deceased person would have earned

  • Funeral and burial costs

  • Ongoing medical bills and expenses

  • Loss of benefits and support the dead person used to provide

Punitive civil damages are more focused on retaliation for misconduct and preventing future harm than just repaying actual financial costs. Total settlement awards can easily surpass $1 million in cases involving a fatal DUI accident, especially when it results in permanent, lifelong disabilities.

Skyrocketing Car Insurance Rates

Following a DUI conviction, car insurance premiums skyrocketed, essentially doubling your monthly expenses and compounding the financial strain caused by legal repercussions. Some insurance companies outright reject any new applications from drivers with DUI records.

And other insurers force high-risk plans with poor coverage and very high rates. Those sky-high car insurance rates often stick around for a minimum of 3 years and frequently as long as 5 years post-DUI.

Deep Emotional Wounds

All too frequently, the financial and legal ramifications of drunk driving overshadow the emotional devastation these accidents inflict. DUI collision survivors later exhibit PTSD symptoms like anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders that can negatively impact relationships, performance at school or jobs, and overall happiness for many years. The emotional damage spreads through entire families as well.

Preventing Future Tragedies

While civil lawsuits and criminal penalties aim to punish drunk driving behavior after a terrible crash, preventing that first choice to drive drunk prevents suffering most effectively. Designated sober drivers are estimated to have prevented over 50,000 drunk driving deaths since the 1980s, when the concept first began.

Persistent advocacy, comprehensive DUI laws, dependable public transportation, and accessible ridesharing services can help prevent many of these entirely avoidable tragedies in our communities in the future. We all have a role to play in stopping impaired driving before it starts.

The Bottom Line

Drunk driving accidents generate extensive and devastating ripple effects, affecting victims, offenders, families, and entire communities both emotionally and financially. Comprehending the profound and enduring harm caused by DUIs and implementing preventive measures to deter impaired driving can significantly reduce the tragic and preventable loss of life that occurs daily across the nation.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What legal options exist for DUI crash victims?

In addition to criminal court-ordered restitution, injury victims can sue drunk drivers directly in civil court and potentially recover damages to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional trauma. An experienced personal injury lawyer can fully evaluate the merits of potential lawsuits.

2. What long-term impacts come with a DUI conviction?

Beyond jail time and heavy fines, a single DUI conviction often means driver’s license suspension, massively increased car insurance rates, barriers to jobs and education, years-long financial instability, and extended court appearances and probation. The consequences can negatively affect a person’s life for over a decade.

3. Can car insurance fully cover all the costs of a drunk driving crash?

While insurance policies may help pay for some vehicle repairs, short-term medical bills, or other related expenses, the maximum payouts usually cannot come close to matching the full extent of costs that result from a major injury accident or fatality related to drunk driving. Significant unpaid bills and out-of-pocket costs frequently burden both injured victims and offending drivers after a DUI wreck.

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