If you suffered an injury in an automobile accident and the at-fault driver is being charged with driving under the influence, you may have unique options for pursuing compensation. Under Georgia law, your recovery can extend beyond compensatory damages if certain conditions are met. For instance, punitive damages may also be available to punish the driver for their reckless behavior.
At Smith Hulsey, our skilled lawyers have significant experience handling DUI accidents in Winder. We can explain your options and help you choose the most effective strategy for recovering from your losses.
To recover damages for a car accident, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted negligently in causing the crash and subsequent injuries. Drinking and driving is a clear form of negligent behavior, so a driver who is charged with DUI may be held responsible for the accident and all associated damages.
However, a plaintiff may still need help from a skilled attorney to establish the drunk driver’s intoxication level, liability, causation of the accident, and extent of financial losses. An experienced DUI attorney at our Winder office could provide a well-rounded legal defense and help with settlement agreements, if necessary.
Georgia has implemented criminal penalties, including punitive damages, for drivers charged with DUI. After being convicted for driving under the influence, a judge will follow statutory guidelines to determine the appropriate fines, jail time, probation, community service hours, or treatment programs.
In Georgia, a first offense carries a sentence ranging from 10 days to 12 months. Additionally, it brings a fine ranging from $300 to $1000 and a minimum of 20 hours of community service. If the B.A.C. of a convicted driver was 0.8% or more, 40 hours of community service is required under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391 (c)(1).
These penalties increase with each repeated offense committed within 10 years after the first conviction. For second and third offenses, the minimum community service hours assigned are 30 days. Fines then range from $600 to $5,000, and jail time increases from 90 days to 12 months. A knowledgeable attorney at our firm could further explain these criminal DUI penalties and how they may affect a civil case for recovery.
In a successful car accident claim, a plaintiff can receive compensatory damages for their personal injuries, medical bills, loss of wages, and damage to their personal property. However, there are unique aspects for recovery in cases involving a drunk driver.
Unlike a standard car crash case, in which the plaintiff can only introduce evidence concerning the accident, the injured party has the right to bring in character evidence against a defendant charged with DUI. This evidence based on their previous driving history opens the door for punitive damages.
Under O.C.G.A § 51-12-5.1(f), the plaintiff may be able to recover uncapped punitive damages from an at-fault driver who is also charged with DUI. These uncapped damages are different from a typical auto accident case, where punitive damages are capped at $250,000.
An experienced attorney could leverage the legal consequences a drunk driver faces to recover the maximum amount for an injured victim. This could be useful when seeking a settlement agreement or preparing for a court trial
If a drunk driver has injured you or a family member, do not hesitate to get the legal representation you need. The experienced attorneys at Smith Hulsey have handled many cases involving DUI accidents in Winder. Let us use that knowledge and experienced on your behalf. Call us today to get started.
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