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Seeking Appropriate Compensation for Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents in Spokane and Throughout Washington

An alarming number of drunk driving accidents continues to plague Spokane and surrounding areas. According to recent reports, impaired driving by individuals under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol has accounted for about 50% of traffic fatalities the past decade. In 2021, the most recent full year of traffic-death data available, drunken driving fatalities rose by 14% from 2020.

Behind these drunk driving statistics lie stories of pain, suffering, and profound loss. At Albrecht Law, our personal injury attorneys understand the complexities surrounding drunk driving crashes, having seen firsthand the physical, emotional, and financial toll they exact on individuals and communities. With extensive experience in personal injury law, we are committed to building a strong case and pursuing just compensation for clients injured by alcohol-impaired drivers. Have you sustained injuries in an impaired driving incident? We’re here to help with loyal, personalized service and cutting-edge technology.

Common Types of Injuries Suffered in Drunk Driving Crashes

Drunk driving crashes in and around Spokane and throughout Washington inflict severe injuries that can have life-altering consequences. The reckless decision to get behind the wheel while impaired by alcohol leads to devastating harm for innocent individuals on the road.

According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, alcohol-related crashes significantly increase the probability of serious injuries or even traffic fatalities. Drunk driving statistics reveal that impaired drivers put themselves and others at risk, leading to a variety of serious injuries, including:

  1. Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI): The impact of a drunk driving accident can cause severe head trauma, leading to concussions, contusions, or more severe brain injuries. These injuries often require extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation, impacting victims’ cognitive abilities and overall quality of life.
  2. Spinal Cord Injuries: The force of a collision can result in spinal cord damage, leading to partial or complete paralysis. Victims may face lifelong challenges, requiring ongoing medical care, adaptive equipment, and modifications to their homes to accommodate their disabilities.
  3. Broken Bones and Fractures: The violent nature of drunk driving accidents can cause bones to break or fracture. Victims commonly suffer broken limbs, ribs, hips, or facial fractures, requiring surgeries, prolonged healing periods, and potential long-term complications.
  4. Internal Organ Damage: The impact of a crash can cause severe internal injuries, such as lacerations, punctured organs, or internal bleeding. These injuries often require immediate medical attention and surgical intervention, with significant long-term complications being possible.
  5. Soft Tissue Injuries: Whiplash, strains, sprains, and other soft tissue injuries are frequently seen in drunk driving accidents. Even seemingly minor injuries can lead to chronic pain, limited mobility, and ongoing medical treatment.
  6. Emotional Trauma: The psychological toll of a drunk driving accident can be just as devastating as physical injuries. Victims may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, or other emotional and mental health issues that require professional support.

If you or a loved one have suffered any of these injuries in a drunk driving accident in the Spokane area or throughout Washington, we are here to help. Our experienced personal injury attorneys will fight tirelessly to pursue just compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and ongoing care.

Criminal Suit vs. Civil Suit for Victims of Drunk Driving Crashes

Understanding the distinction between a criminal suit and a civil suit in drunk driving cases is crucial. The state or prosecutor initiates a criminal suit with the goal of punishing an alcohol-impaired driver for their unlawful behavior. A criminal case focuses on establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and imposing criminal penalties on alcohol-impaired drivers, such as fines, probation, license suspension, or even imprisonment.

On the other hand, a personal injury attorney brings a civil suit against the at-fault party on behalf of their clients, to seek compensation for the damages and losses caused by the drunk driving accident. The primary goal of a civil suit is financial compensation for the victims.

Even if the driver responsible for the accident is within the legal BAC limit and not convicted of a DUI, it’s still possible to grant compensation for damages. Civil cases have a lower burden of proof — meaning it’s only necessary to establish that the plaintiff’s account of events is more likely to be true than not. This contrasts with criminal cases, in which proof must be beyond a reasonable doubt.

Civil Remedies for Victims of Alcohol-Impaired Drivers

Pursuing compensation for victims harmed by drunk drivers may include additional parties with alcohol involvement in the legal action. Examples would be social hosts who let guests leave drunk, or bar owners who continued to serve alcohol to the driver — thus having some culpability in alcohol-impaired crashes.

Depending on several factors such as the drivers involved — which may include young drivers, BAC limit, first time offenders, and drunk driving fatalities — civil cases can address economic and non-economic damages, including:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Past and future lost earnings
  • Any permanent disfigurement
  • Any permanent disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of a normal life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Funeral and burial expenses in the event of a wrongful death
  • Punitive damages

What Must Be Proven in Impaired Driving Cases?

In Washington, civil cases seeking damages and compensation from drunk drivers must prove the following:

  1. Duty of Care: The drunk driver owed a duty of care to other drivers, meaning the driver had a legal obligation to operate their vehicle responsibly and not put others at risk.
  2. Breach of Duty: The drunk driver breached their duty of care by operating their vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including illicit drugs, if applicable. Impaired driving violates traffic laws and breaches their duty to drive safely.
  3. Causation: The injuries sustained directly resulted from the driver’s intoxication and negligence.
  4. Damages: The extent of the damages, including physical injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and any other losses suffered because of the accident.
  5. Comparative Negligence: Washington follows the doctrine of comparative negligence, which means addressing any potential arguments of shared fault. Under Washington law (RCW 4.22.005), individuals can still recover compensation for their damages even if they were partially at fault for the accident.

Legal proceedings involving motor vehicle crashes caused by alcohol-impaired driving and/or driving under the influence of other substances can be complex, and each case may have unique factors to consider. Consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer is in your interest after you have suffered an accident caused by an intoxicated driver. Your attorney can offer accurate advice and guidance tailored to the specific circumstances of your case.

Drunk Driving Fatalities and Washington’s Wrongful Death Statute

Drunk driving fatalities are an unfortunate reality. In Washington, a wrongful death occurs when an individual’s death is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another party. In cases of drunk driving crashes, if the alcohol-impaired driver’s actions directly lead to the death of another person, it may be considered a wrongful death.

Under Washington law, a personal representative designated in the decedent’s will may file on behalf of the deceased person’s estate. If the decedent did not designate a personal representative, the court may appoint one. In accordance with Washington’s Statute of Limitations, personal representatives must file claims within three years of the drunk driving deaths.

Successful wrongful death claims concerning alcohol-impaired driving fatalities may lead to various types of compensatory damages, such as:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical costs
  • Loss of income or financial support
  • Loss of companionship
  • Emotional suffering

Drug-Impaired Driving

Drug-impaired driving in Washington is a serious offense that encompasses driving under the influence of any drug, including cannabis. The state’s laws address this issue to ensure road safety and hold individuals accountable for their actions.

According to RCW 46.61.502 of the Washington Revised Code, it is unlawful to operate a vehicle while under the combined influence of intoxicating liquor, cannabis, and any drug. This means that individuals can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if they are impaired by drugs while operating a vehicle within the state.

Washington treats cannabis-related traffic crashes similarly to alcohol-impaired driving. The legal limit for THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis) concentration in a person’s blood is 5 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). If a driver is found to have a THC blood count above this limit, they may face DUI charges.

The state’s approach to drivers under the influence of drugs focuses on impairment rather than solely relying on specific THC blood counts. Law enforcement officers undergo specialized training to detect signs of impairment and make informed judgments during roadside evaluations.

To combat the problem, Washington has implemented various measures, including education campaigns, law enforcement training, and strict penalties for offenders, with the goal of deterring individuals from driving under the influence of drugs and minimizing the risks posed to public safety.

If someone is caught driving under the influence of drugs in Washington, they may face consequences such as license suspension, fines, mandatory drug education programs, probation, and even imprisonment — depending on the circumstances.

Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney with Trial Experience to Represent Me Against a Drunk Driver?

In an ideal world, we could eliminate drunk driving as a leading cause of injury and traffic related deaths. Have you been involved in an accident where another driver’s drinking inflicted severe injuries? Have drunk driving fatalities and the loss of loved ones upended your life? You need a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney willing to go to trial, if necessary.

When seeking representation, know that a significant number of plaintiff’s lawyers have never been to trial. Although nobody wants to go to the Washington State Court of Appeals, what if you get there and your lawyer has no experience? They will dump you, leaving you with no recourse to seek compensation for your injuries. Choose a lawyer from the outset who can handle going to trial if needed for your impaired driving case. At Albrecht Law, we have gone to the Washington State Supreme Court multiple times. If you stick with us, we’ll stick with you.

Did Someone’s Decision to Drive Drunk Lead to Injury or Death? Trust Albrecht Law to Provide the Legal Representation You Need

When a driver’s ability to uphold their duty of care results in severe injuries or drunk driving fatalities, you need a loyal, knowledgeable, and experienced attorney by your side to seek fair compensation or pursue a wrongful death claim, if necessary.

At Albrecht Law, you are known. We combine cutting-edge technology with personalized service to support you through this devastating time. Contact us at (509) 495-1246(509) 495-1246 or complete our online form today to schedule your free consultation. We are here to serve you.

Albrecht Law PLLC — Our Clients Are More Than Just Cases

Questions or Schedule An Appointment? Call Us:

(509) 495-1246

Questions or Schedule An Appointment? Call Us:

(509) 495-1246

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