Drinking is common, use of both prescription and illicit drugs are common, and driving motor vehicles is even more common. Those facts combine to produce many thousands of auto accidents on our roads, causing immense amounts of injury to both people and property. Not surprisingly, a large portion of motor vehicle accident fatalities occur in accidents involving impaired drivers. Alcohol and many drugs adversely affect the three driver characteristics most important to safety:
Maryland has very specific laws about driving while impaired by alcohol or other drugs, and violations are criminal acts. If that’s the case for the driver who caused your accident, an experienced Maryland accident lawyer will have little trouble establishing that the driver should be held legally responsible for any injuries, including death, in an accident caused by that impairment.
Recovery is easier if the defendant violated the impaired driving laws, but the real issue in a personal injury case is whether the driver’s impairment caused the injuries. Even if there was no violation of the impairment laws, an experienced attorney can still establish that the defendant’s physical and mental abilities had been sufficiently reduced to cause the accident. For both alcohol and other drugs—whether prescription or illegal—the questions are whether the driver’s ability to control the vehicle and respond to conditions was impaired, whether the driver had reason to know of the impairment, and, rarely, whether there was some “exigent circumstance” that justified driving despite the impairment (which is rarely an issue).
On the other hand, you still have to prove that the impairment caused the accident. A sober driver who runs a stop sign at twice the local speed limit and collides with an impaired driver traveling at safe speed would have a heck of a time recovering from the impaired driver.
In many cases, the driver’s impairment can be rather easily shown by blood test results, or eyewitness accounts of the driver’s use of drugs around the time of the accident. In others—as when the impaired driver is significantly injured and blood tests can’t be performed until much later, or there are no eyewitnesses to the driver’s drug use around the time of the accident—proving impairment can be a difficult process involving investigating the driver’s habits, criminal record, and driving history.
To recover for injuries suffered in an accident caused by an impaired driver, you also have to establish that the injuries were caused by the car accident. In many cases this is fairly simple, but it can get tricky if your medical history shows that you previously suffered injuries similar to the ones you now claim. The lawyer for the defendant would argue that your current injuries pre-dated the accident and aren’t the responsibility of the defendant. Your attorney needs the legal and medical knowledge to refute that claim.
Similar questions can be raised if you suffered another accident—whether in a vehicle, at work, or otherwise—after the accident with the impaired driver.
The drunk driver may be criminally prosecuted by the state, but if you were injured in a crash that driver caused, you have to navigate the legal system to recover damages in a civil lawsuit. In addition to thorough knowledge of Maryland’s personal injury laws, these cases require an attorney with:
Judges and juries tend to have little sympathy for drunk and drugged drivers who cause mayhem on our state’s roads.
The lawyers representing the drunk driver know that, of course, and will do everything possible to keep the defendant’s impaired state from becoming known to the jury and, failing that, to minimize the degree of impairment and the role it played in causing the accident. One easy way for them to do that is to get you to settle quickly, hopefully before you even realize that the driver was impaired. That’s why it’s crucial that you get experienced legal help as soon as possible, and certainly before you make any settlement.
At the Baltimore personal injury Law Offices of G. Randolph Rice, we have the experience needed to protect your rights throughout the process of obtaining the compensation you deserve. An out-of-court settlement may end up being in your best interests, but we’ll make sure that any settlement is based on all the facts, not just the ones the defendant wants to emphasize. If a fair settlement that includes both your economic and non-economic damages can’t be reached, we’ll take the case to trial, where we’ll present a carefully constructed and persuasive case to a jury. Call today to schedule a free consultation and tell us the details of your accident. There is no fee unless you recover money for your injuries. 410.288.2900