Pursuing a Georgia Wrongful Death Claim after a Drunk Driving Accident

A roadside memorial for someone who was killed by a drunk driver.

Losing a loved one under any circumstance is a tragic event. When the loss is lost due to the actions of another, however, there is a need for justice. Drunk driving is one such instance where the victim’s family may pursue a legal claim to right the wrong that their family suffered. Put the extensive DUI knowledge and experience of the Cumming personal injury attorneys at Banks Stubbs and McFarland to work for your family to maximize your wrongful death recovery .

Examining the Fatalities in Georgia Drunk Driving Accidents

The criminal penalties for drinking and driving in Georgia are harsh, but unfortunately, neither ride sharing services such as Uber or Lyft nor the criminal laws appear to be strong enough to deter drivers from getting behind the wheel under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Some accident statistics include:

  1. According to the CDC, one in three US traffic deaths is due to drunk driving.
  2. In 2016, 24% of traffic deaths in Georgia were caused by a drunk driver.
  3. 1.4% of Georgia drivers ADMITTED getting behind the wheel after drinking too much.
  4. According to NHTSA, every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes—that’s one person every 48 minutes in 2017. These deaths have fallen by a third in the last three decades; however, drunk-driving crashes claim more than 10,000 lives per year! In 2010, the most recent year for which cost data is available, these deaths and damages contributed to a cost of $44 billion that year.

As the data shows, Georgia accidents are still likely. Due to the severity of drinking and driving accidents, many of the victims do not survive the crash.

Who are the Parties in a Georgia Wrongful Death Claim Involving Drunk Driving?

In Georgia wrongful death claims, the spouses, parents or children of the deceased are typically the parties who initiate the lawsuit. In some cases, however, a further removed family member may bring the suit or whoever is the executor of the estate. It is also worth mentioning that the family of the passenger in the drunk driver’s car may also have a wrongful death claim, in certain circumstances. A Georgia wrongful death attorney would be able to ascertain your eligibility.

Georgia also provides for dram shop and social host liability. As a result, you may be able to sue the establishment who provided the driver with alcohol or the party who provided the drunk driver with the keys to the car.

Recoveries Available in Wrongful Death Claims

Georgia breaks down wrongful death compensation or damages into two categories: economic and noneconomic. Though these involve somewhat complex calculations, the damages available for recovery include:

Non-economic damages:

  • Full value of the loss of a human life
  • Pre-death Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship and emotional support
  • Decreased quality of life

Economic damages:

  • Loss of past income and future income of the deceased
  • Hospital and medical bills
  • Inheritance loss
  • Burial or funeral costs

Punitive damages are also available:

Because the at fault driver violated the law by driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, your family may also be eligible to recover punitive damages designed to punish the offender. Punitive damages are recoverable under Georgia law statute where the collision resulted from particularly dangerous dangerous driving, such as driving while intoxicated or excessive speeding. There is no limit to the amount of punitive damages recoverable when a driver commits a tort while driving under the influence. See O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1(f). In fact, Georgia appellate courts have upheld a punitive damages verdict which was 22 times the compensatory damages in a personal injury case involving a D.U.I. driver.

Why You Need a Georgia Wrongful Death Attorney for Drunk Driving Accidents

It is imperative that you consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney BEFORE speaking with an auto insurance adjuster at a time where you may be emotionally vulnerable. Headaches may arise in the claim process, such:

  • What if your loved one was also at fault for the accident?
  • What if the driver is found to be not guilty in their criminal trial?
  • What if the BAC was under .08?
  • What if the driver was under the influence of prescription medications?

The experienced Georgia wrongful death attorneys at Banks, Stubbs and McFarland are ready to help you obtain a full financial recovery for wrongful death of your loved one and restore your life and peace of mind. Call our firm today at 770-887-1209 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.