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Alcohol and Drug-Related Injuries: Liability and Compensation in Impaired Driving Cases

As a motorist, you gamble with your life every time you get on the road, whether here in Mobile or elsewhere in our state. We’re not saying this for shock value but because it’s true. Substance abuse resulting in intoxication affects a person’s fine motor skills, leading them to make poor judgment calls that cause alcohol and drug-related injuries and fatalities. Alabama laws outline liability for these accidents and describe types of compensation accessible to victims.

Alabama Drunk and Drugged Driving Statistics

We shared how taking a ride down the road always carries with it some dangers. State and federal government data back those sentiments up. 

Drive Safe Alabama data shows that there were an estimated 7,339 alcohol and drug crashes in our state in 2021. Those statistics show that Individuals belonging to the following age groups were involved in alcohol or drug-related crashes that year: 

  • Age 20-29: 27.02%
  • Age 30-29: 25.03%
  • Age 40-49: 17.18%
  • Age 50-59: 13.54%
  • Age 60-69: 6.94% 
  • Other age groups: 2.92%

National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS) data shows that in Alabama, in 2019, there were 246 alcohol-involved fatal crashes. This marks an uptick in numbers from an Alabama Department of Transportation Report, which showed that there were a combined 188 alcohol or drug-involved fatalities in 2018. Drive Safe Alabama contends that statistics like these show that deadly crashes involving DUI are 6.6 or more times higher than other types of accidents. 

Common Injuries Associated With DUI Crashes

We discussed both injury and fatality statistics above. That’s because the injuries drug or alcohol-involved crash victims suffer, which include the following, are often so serious that those people who cause or are struck in those crashes often lose their lives:

  • Compression injuries and residual amputations:  Drunk driving crashes may occur at high rates of speed, quickly pushing through the front or rear end of the vehicle and into the passenger compartment, putting occupants’ limbs at risk of being compressed or becoming severed, both of which may necessitate them undergoing amputations as a life-saving measure.
  • Traumatic brain injuries: This type of injury falls into the class of blunt force trauma injuries as the most catastrophic, lasting impairments often result from a person striking their head on a solid object like a dashboard, the roof of the vehicle, steering wheel, a car’s hood, or the ground. Individuals who do survive these injuries may experience memory issues, mood regulation issues, and cognitive deficits. 
  • Spinal cord injuries: The impact of an accident with a drunk driver can be so significant that it severs a motorist’s or pedestrian’s spinal cord, leaving them with a partial or complete spinal cord injury and residual paralysis, not only affecting their quality of life, but leaving them requiring future surgeries, specialized medical equipment and home renovations, and caregiving.
  • Burn injuries: Since collisions with drugged drivers can involve serious impact, it’s not uncommon for fires to ignite. You have an explosive mix when you couple an accident victim being unable to move out of harm’s way due to them having suffered serious injuries with a fast-spreading fire, and second-, third-, or even the most serious, fourth-degree burn injuries can result, requiring surgical intervention, infection control, physical rehabilitation, and mental health counseling – especially if disfigurement occurs.

Understanding Liability for Alabama Alcohol and Drug-Involved Accidents

Alabama has an at-fault insurance system in place that allows those injured in auto accidents to file an insurance claim against the motorist who hurt them. However, Alabama is also a pure contributory negligence state that prohibits victims from recovering damages if they share fault for causing the wreck. So, provided you can show the person who struck you was wholly negligent for the harm they caused you, i.e., they’d been out doing drugs or drinking before they got behind the wheel of their car and struck you, and you were appropriately following the rules of the road, you likely have a viable claim.

Additionally, there are dram shop laws in Alabama. Per the updated law instituted in April 2023, it allows alcohol-involved accident victims to hold businesses liable if their server knowingly serves a visibly intoxicated individual and that customer goes on to cause injuries or deaths. 

Compensation DUI Accident Victims Can Recover

Damages you may be able to request if an intoxicated driver injured you include: 

  • Medical expenses: This can include ambulance, emergency room, surgery, rehabilitation, follow-up doctors’ care, and counseling bills. 
  • Lost wages: If you missed work due to your crash or your recovery, you may be able to request lost pay. And, if your injuries will impact your ability to work down the line, you may also be able to petition for lost future earnings.
  • Pain and suffering: If your involvement in the crash with an impaired driver caused you to endure mental anguish or physical pain, these impacts fit into the “pain and suffering” category, which may also be a compensable loss for you.

Compensation may be available for additional losses you suffered, which you’ll want to discuss with your legal team.

Contact Alcohol and Drug-Related Injuries Lawyers at Tobias Comer Law for Help

There are complexities involved in handling crashes caused by intoxicated motorists. While proving negligence may be pretty straightforward if there’s documentable proof they were intoxicated when the collision occurred, such evidence isn’t always as readily accessible. This is where it can be helpful to have an experienced personal injury attorney to assist with liability determinations and advise you of your right to recover compensation for your losses.

We offer free consultations to injury victims at Tobias Comer Law, LLC, where you can discuss what happened leading up to your accident, the extent of your injuries, and other crash-related details with a competent legal professional. As with other civil legal matters, you must file a claim before the statute of limitations expires. So, contact our Mobile law office for your initial case review today.

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