Rhode Island Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
According to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, 39% of roadway fatalities from 2011 to 2015 involved alcohol, and 42% of car crashes in 2015 were alcohol-related. These staggering figures for Rhode Island are far higher than the national average of 29% drunk driving crashes or even the New England average of 34% of car accidents involving alcohol. Along with other negligent and risky driving behaviors such as speeding and distracted driving, drunk driving is consistently a leading cause of car accidents in Rhode Island year after year. Everyone knows the dangers of drinking and driving, yet far too many people choose to engage in this dangerous behavior anyway. Those that do can and should be held responsible when their poor choices and actions cause serious personal injury or wrongful death to others on the road. The Rhode Island drunk driving accident attorneys at Robert E. Craven & Associates are here to help car accident victims who have been injured by a drunk driver hold that driver accountable and get the medical care and compensation they need and deserve.
What makes drinking and driving so dangerous?
Unlike speeding or distracted driving, where one negligent behavior increases the likelihood of a crash, alcohol intoxication affects the body in numerous ways. Each alcohol impairment alone raises the risk of a crash, but all of these impairments together combine to make drunk driving one of the most dangerous behaviors a driver can engage in. Following are some of the most dangerous effects of alcohol intoxication on driving:
- Alcohol impairs judgment, and drunk drivers are more likely to make poor decisions such as racing to beat a light turning red or taking a curve too fast.
- Alcohol slows reaction time. A drunk driver is less likely to respond properly to a traffic slowdown or emergency situation such as an object in the road.
- Alcohol diminishes concentration. A common drunk driving behavior is to weave or drift out of the lane without realizing it.
- Alcohol dulls the senses. A drunk driver is less aware of other vehicles or pedestrians on the road.
- Alcohol impairs motor reflexes and coordination. Drunk drivers simply do not drive well, and they overreact or underreact when stopping, turning or making emergency maneuvers.
Crashes involving alcohol are often much more forceful than other types of car accidents because the drunk driver fails to apply the brakes and slow the car down in the moments before a collision. For this reason, drunk driving car accident victims often suffer much more serious or fatal injuries.
How do you hold drunk drivers accountable for causing car accidents?
A car accident claim in many ways proceeds in the same way as other car accident or personal injury negligence claims. Some people worry that car insurance companies will not cover drunk driving accidents, but this is typically not the case. Drunk drivers will have a harder time getting car insurance after an accident and will have to pay much higher premiums, but insurers cover the damages caused by their insured even if they were driving drunk at the time.
One of the ways in which car accident civil claims work differently is that often the drunk driver is being prosecuted for driving under the influence (DUI). Evidence of drunk driving from a criminal trial can be powerful evidence in a civil claim to show the driver was negligent and should be held liable for the damages caused. As an accident victim, you may want to wait until any criminal proceedings have concluded before moving forward with your civil claim. This is not required, however, and it’s possible to bring a civil claim even while a criminal case is underway. Also, you’ll still have a civil claim regardless of whether the driver is eventually convicted of DUI or even if the driver is never charged.
Another unique aspect of drunk driving car accident cases is that punitive damages may be appropriate. Rhode Island law allows punitive damages for reckless conduct. Whether conduct is considered negligent or reckless is a matter of degree, but many people will agree that drinking and driving goes beyond simple negligence and is an example of reckless behavior. At Robert E. Craven & Associates, our Rhode Island car accident injury lawyers put in the extra effort to obtain punitive damages in appropriate cases. Punitive damages help to punish individuals for especially bad conduct, and they serve as an example to deter others from drunk driving. Punitive damages can also provide car accident victims with much-needed compensation and a sense that justice has been done in their case.
Our Attorneys are Here to Help after a Drunk Driving Car Accident in Rhode Island
For help after a Rhode Island car accident involving a drunk driver or other negligent or reckless driving, call the law office of Robert E. Craven & Associates at 401-453-2700 for a no-cost, confidential consultation with a dedicated, experienced and successful Rhode Island drunk driving accident attorney.