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Drunk driving remains a big problem on our nation’s roads

A police officer performs a field sobriety test on a suspected drunk driver

West Virginia lawyers explain what you need to know to protect your rights

The dangers of drinking and driving have been documented for decades. That’s why so many states have such strict laws involving drunk driving. Even so, car accidents caused by drunk drivers continue to be a serious problem across the country and in many states as well, including West Virginia.

So how bad is the problem? Is it getting better or worse? Which age group drinks and drives the most? What should you do if a drunk driver causes your accident? Learn more about your legal options and how a lawyer can help if you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident caused by a drunk driver.

Drinking and driving, by the numbers

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) compiles statistics each year on accidents caused by drunk drivers. According to the latest NHTSA statistics as reported by the insurance comparison website The Zebra, here are the latest drunk driving numbers:

  • 1 in 4 (25%) of all traffic fatalities nationwide occur due to crashes caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol.
  • Approximately 30 people die every day in accidents caused by drunk drivers. That’s one death roughly every 50 minutes due to a crash caused by a drunk driver.
  • An estimated 290,000 people are injured in drunk driving accidents every year. That’s about one injury for every 1 minute and 48 seconds.
  • Drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.1 are 7 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than a sober driver.

Age-wise, drivers between ages 21 and 24 caused the most crashes due to drunk driving, accounting for 27%. Drivers 25 to 34 years old came in second, accounting for 26% of all drunk driving accidents.

As far as gender, male drivers overwhelmingly cause more drunk driving accidents compared to women. For every drunk driving crash caused by a woman, 4 DUI accidents are caused by a male driver.

These are just some of the sobering statistics related to drunk driving accidents in the United States. But such numbers only tell part of the story. No number can capture the toll that a single, serious drunk driving crash can have on a family, especially if you or a loved one sustained a bad injury or worse after being hit by a drunk driver.

Drunk driving in West Virginia

Like the rest of the country, drunk driving accidents remain a serious problem in West Virginia. Here are the latest statistics compiled by the NHTSA:

  • 65 drunk driving fatalities occur on average every year in West Virginia.
  • This statistic accounts for 23.3% of all traffic fatalities in the state. On average, 279 people die every year in car accidents in West Virginia.
  • West Virginia counties with the most traffic fatalities during the last 5 years involving drunk drivers with a BAC over 0.08:
    • Kanawha County – 23 fatalities
    • Berkeley County – 20 fatalities
    • Cabell County – 18 fatalities
    • Harrison County – 17 fatalities
    • Raleigh County – 16 fatalities
    • Monongalia County – 12 fatalities
    • Preston County – 12 fatalities

No matter what West Virginia county you live in, drunk driving remains a serious problem in many communities throughout the state. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the risks and the legal options available to you in the event of a drunk driving accident.

What should I do if a drunk driver causes my accident?

If a drunk driver has caused a collision involving you or a loved one, it’s critical that you take certain steps right away to protect your health and your rights. After a crash with a drunk driver, you should:

  • Call the police and tell them you have been in an accident caused by a drunk driver.
  • If you or anyone else is injured, ask the police to send an ambulance.
  • If your crash took place several hours or days ago, it’s not too late to have a medical professional examine you for potential injuries. Have a doctor diagnose you and run the necessary medical tests.
  • If you’re still at the scene of the accident and can safely do so:
    • Take photographs of your accident.
    • Talk to any witnesses and get their full name and contact phone number.
    • Get the other driver’s full name, address, phone number and insurance information – unless the driver appears to be intoxicated and acting aggressively. In such a situation, simply wait in your vehicle until the police arrive.
  • If your accident took place several hours or days ago:
    • Call your insurance company and tell them you have been in an accident caused by a drunk driver.
    • Get a copy of your official accident report from the investigating police officer and carefully review the document to make sure it’s accurate. Your attorney can assist you with this process, and if there is any inaccurate or incorrect information, your lawyer can take steps to help you set the record straight.
  • If the at-fault driver’s insurance company contacts you, do not talk to them. Anything you say could be used as evidence to deny your accident claim. Simply tell them to talk to your lawyer.

The stakes are high after a motor vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver. These types of crashes often cause severe injuries, and severe injuries usually mean the insurance company for the at-fault driver has to pay more to the victim. As such, your accident claim could be viewed as a threat to the insurance company's bottom line. That’s why it’s critical that you have an experienced attorney on your side, protecting your rights and demanding the compensation you rightfully deserve.

How can a lawyer help me?

When you have an attorney working for you, you can dictate what happens after your drunk driving crash. Your lawyer can help you in many different ways, including:

  • Review your official accident report with you to make sure it accurately reflects exactly what happened in your drunk driving accident.
  • Explain all the legal options available to you as a victim of a drunk driving accident.
  • Deal directly with the drunk driver’s insurance company on your behalf.
  • Investigate whether anyone else is to blame for your drunk driving accident, including a bar, restaurant or liquor store that may have sold alcohol to the driver, even though the driver was already intoxicated. In such a situation, you may have grounds for what is known as a “dram shop” claim.
  • Negotiate the best possible settlement offer on your behalf with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
  • If the at-fault party’s insurance company refuses to negotiate in good faith, your lawyer can file a lawsuit on your behalf or take other legal action in pursuit of appropriate financial compensation for your damages.

Don’t underestimate the complexity of your legal case. Get the legal help you need and deserve after your drunk driving accident in West Virginia. Schedule a free case evaluation with a lawyer at Klie Law Offices today. We can review the details of your case and explain the legal options available to you. Contact us right now.

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