Indianapolis Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys
Drunk Driving Accidents in Indiana
About once every 50 minutes, someone in the United States dies in a drunk driving accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 10,000 people lost their lives due to drunk driving in 2019 alone. In Indiana, about 13 percent of all traffic accident fatalities are related to drunk driving each year.
We all know the dangers of driving drunk, yet many people still choose to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. At Hovde Dassow + Deets, we believe that drunk drivers who negligently cause accidents resulting in serious bodily injury and death should be held accountable. If you were injured or if someone you love was killed by a drunk driver, our Indianapolis drunk driving accident attorneys can help you seek the fair compensation you are owed. We are ready to help you fight for justice.
How Alcohol Affects Your Ability to Drive
In Indiana, it is illegal for anyone aged 21 or older to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent. Known as “operating while intoxicated,” or OWI, this criminal offense is punishable by jail or prison time, hundreds to thousands of dollars in fines, automatic driver’s license suspension, and mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) installation. Those found guilty of OWI who also cause vehicle accidents leading to bodily injury or death can also be held civilly liable for victims’ damages, such as medical bills, funeral expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and more.
While the law focuses on BAC, it also explicitly prohibits operating a vehicle while “actually intoxicated” by alcohol or drugs, regardless of the individual’s BAC. This is because any amount of alcohol can impair one’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
Alcohol affects your ability to drive by impairing your:
- Judgment: Intoxicated drivers are more likely to make poor decisions behind the wheel. This is because alcohol affects judgment, as well as the ability to reason, plan ahead, and even think clearly. This limits one’s ability to foresee possible dangers and increases the likelihood of making unsafe or unwise decisions.
- Reaction Time: Alcohol impairs reflexes and slows reaction time, which can be extremely dangerous when someone is behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Intoxicated drivers typically take longer to process and react to changing conditions and will be slower to stop to avoid collisions with pedestrians, bicyclists, and other motorists.
- Focus: Driving is a skill, one that requires a certain amount of focus and concentration. Alcohol impairs concentration, meaning intoxicated drivers are more likely to have trouble focusing on the road. Alcohol also affects attention span and causes drivers to be unable to maintain an even and correct driving speed, obey traffic signals, and react to changing traffic patterns.
- Coordination: Alcohol significantly impacts coordination. As one consumes more alcohol, their motor skills become increasingly impaired. When it comes to driving, impaired coordination often translates to difficulty staying in one lane, sitting up straight, and keeping one’s eyes on the road ahead.
- Vision: Alcohol impairs eye movement and focus, often leading to blurred vision, double vision, and fatigue. It also impacts one’s ability to judge distance and can negatively affect depth perception. It is essential that motorists are able to accurately judge the distance between their vehicle and others, as well as roadside objects, so as to avoid collisions.
Even if the driver who caused your accident did not have a blood alcohol concentration at or above the legal limit, they could still face drunk driving charges if they are found to have been “actually intoxicated” or impaired by alcohol. If you were injured or if your loved one died due to the collision, you could have grounds for a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the drunk driver.
Can You Sue the Bar, Restaurant, or Person Who Sold or Gave the Drunk Driver Alcohol?
In addition to suing the drunk driver, you may be able to bring a claim against the establishment or individual who provided them with alcohol prior to the accident.
Under Indiana’s dram shop and social host liability laws, you can sue a vendor after being injured by an intoxicated individual when both of the following are true:
- The vendor provided alcohol to the individual who ultimately caused your injuries when the individual was already clearly intoxicated
- The vendor knew or reasonably could have known that the individual’s intoxication could foreseeably or proximately cause injury
In Indiana, the law does not differentiate between establishments, such as restaurants and bars, and social hosts. This means that you could bring a liability claim against a licensed establishment or vendor, as well as an individual who supplied alcohol to the person who caused your injuries, as long as you can prove the necessary elements of your claim.
Dram shop and social host liability cases are incredibly difficult to prove. It is strongly recommended that you work with an experienced attorney, like those at Hovde Dassow + Deets, when navigating these types of claims.
What Compensation Can You Recover After a Drunk Driving Accident?
The purpose of filing a drunk driving accident claim is to recover financial compensation for specific economic and/or non-economic losses you have suffered as a result of the collision. These claims are entirely separate from any criminal or administrative proceedings and penalties the drunk driver may face.
Depending on the specifics of your case, you could be entitled to compensation for the following:
- Emergency medical care
- Ambulance/hospital fees
- Medical bills and copays
- Surgeries and other treatments
- Future medical care costs
- Medical equipment and/or devices
- Home modifications
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost enjoyment of life
- Lost income/wages
- Diminished earning ability
In some cases, it may be possible to pursue punitive damages. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are not meant to make the victim “whole” but, rather, to punish the defendant for egregious negligence or misconduct. If the defendant acted willfully or intentionally in a manner that they knew could cause foreseeable injury, punitive damages may be available. Note that, in Indiana, punitive damages may not be awarded in wrongful death cases. Additionally, such damages are capped. Contact our attorneys to learn more.
How Our Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers Can Help
If you were injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, or if someone you love was tragically killed because another person chose to get behind the wheel when intoxicated, you deserve justice. At Hovde Dassow + Deets, our Indianapolis drunk driving accident lawyers are here to guide you through the legal process and fight for every penny you are owed.
We offer highly personalized, compassionate, and attentive legal support. When you choose our firm, one of our partner attorneys will be personally involved in your case, and you will always be able to reach us when you have questions or concerns. We are committed to maximizing every single one of our clients’ recoveries and have secured more than $300 million in settlements and verdicts to date.
Words can not express how exceptional Rick Hovde and Kelly Faulk are in the Field of Medical Malpractice- Bob D
You can tell we're just not a client but a family that they care about.- Steve H.
The best thing about working with Hovde Dassow + Deets was Nick's professionalism & knowledge.- Sarah S.
Our family very much appreciates the services we received from Nick Deets & his staff.- Teresa S.
Very professional, honest, upfront all throughout the case.- John H.