DUI Accidents in Colorado
If you or a loved one has been hit by a drunk driver in Colorado, McDivitt Law Firm is here to support you each step of the way. Following the accident, you may find yourself at the center of police investigations and insurance company questioning, all while trying to recover from devastating injuries. There is no doubt that being a DUI accident victim is an overwhelming experience, but it can be made considerably easier with the help of an experienced Colorado accident lawyer.
Sadly, drunk drivers kill thousands of innocent people every year. In 2016, alcohol-impaired drivers were responsible for 10,497 fatalities. In Colorado, drunk drivers were responsible for 67% of the motor vehicle fatalities that year in the state. These numbers are devastating, and the impact of drunk driving accidents is heartbreaking for loved ones. McDivitt Law Firm is here to support you and your loved ones through this painful and often overwhelming process.
Note: Colorado now has more permissive laws than most other states when it comes to the use and possession of marijuana. This has resulted in even more drivers on the roads who are under the influence. Whether a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the significance of the collision is often more serious because of the impaired driver’s oftentimes complete lack of awareness of their speed or the traffic around them.
I Was Hit by a Drunk Driver, Now What?
If you were hit by a drunk driver, try to remain calm at the accident scene and call 911 immediately. Seeking medical attention for yourself and for injured passengers is critical at this time. In addition, calling 911 will alert the authorities, so they can investigate the crash, arrest the drunk driver if necessary, and file a police report. An official police report and arrest for DUI will help you prove liability and ensure that you have the evidence you need to pursue a claim.
Do not leave the accident scene for any reason, even if you believe that you are uninjured. While you wait for emergency personnel to arrive, take accident scene photos of the other vehicle, the license plate number, and surroundings. Gather any other identifying information that could be helpful to your case, such as eyewitness contact information.
Drunk drivers often try to flee the scene of an accident. If you are physically able to do so, and it is safe for you to do so, try to take a photo of the drunk driver’s car before they are able to flee. Again, though, focus on medical needs first!
Why Do I need a DUI Accident Lawyer?
After your injuries have been treated, your next step should be to contact an experienced accident attorney in Colorado. Your attorney will review your case and help you avoid missing any critical deadlines for filing a claim. Avoid talking to your insurance company or to the drunk driver’s insurance company without first speaking to an attorney. You may unknowingly jeopardize your claim by speaking to an insurance adjuster.
Once you’ve met with your drunk driving accident attorney, they will begin building your case and establishing liability. To do this, your attorney may need to review medical records, DUI arrest reports, and BAC test data. Your attorney will then use this evidence to help you obtain maximum compensation for your injuries. Without a DUI accident lawyer on your side, you may not recover enough to pay for your medical expenses and lost wages. This can put you and your family into unnecessary financial strains. Having a law firm by your side that has successfully represented numerous Colorado DUI accident victims is a key component to protecting your future after a devastating DUI accident.
Understanding DUI Accident Insurance Claims
Even though driving intoxicated is illegal, the “at fault” driver’s insurance company is still responsible for damages that result. This means that if you’ve been injured in an accident with a drunk driver, the drunk driver’s insurance company should pay for:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Long-term care
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
However, the insurance company will only pay for damages up to the liability limits of the policy. So, what happens if you are injured in a DUI accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver?
If you are injured in a DUI accident with an uninsured driver, your own insurance policy should provide coverage under your own UM/UIM benefits. Your benefits should cover some of the damages you sustained, up to your own policy limits.
Your attorney may also be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the uninsured driver. If they have assets, but no insurance, you may be able to collect compensation this way. The Federal Bankruptcy Code prevents individuals from filing bankruptcy simply to avoid paying for DUI accident claims.
Another possible way to collect compensation is to file a lawsuit against the bar or place that may have illegally served them alcohol or continued to serve them alcohol after they were visibly intoxicated. This is known as dram shop liability. An experienced DUI accident attorney can investigate your accident to determine if a third party may be to blame.
What is Dram Shop Liability in Colorado?
While many individuals understand that the drunk driver should be held responsible for the accident they caused, what many don’t realize is that the person or persons who served that drunk driver may also be held responsible for their actions. This is known as dram shop liability and it’s addressed in Colorado Revised Statutes section 12-47-801. Any business that is licensed to sell alcohol in Colorado can be held liable if they sell alcohol to a minor or to a visibly intoxicated person, who then causes injury to someone else. The law also applies to social hosts who knowingly served alcohol to minors in their homes.
Take, for instance, the case of an underage drunk driver who hit a police officer and another man in Englewood, Colorado. Experts say that criminal charges could be placed against the person or business that gave the young man alcohol and could result in charges ranging from providing alcohol to a minor to manslaughter. If the alcohol was sold through a business, the state liquor board has the authority to investigate and revoke its alcohol license.
What Can You Do If You See a Drunk Driver?
More than 30,000 drivers are arrested for DUI every single year in Colorado. If you see a drunk driver, it is important to help the Colorado police department get that driver off of the road. The first step, however, is recognizing the drunk driver on the road. Some signs of drunk driving include:
- Quickly accelerating and decelerating
- Weaving across the road or in traffic
- Erratic braking
- Slowly responding to traffic lights or signals
- Driving under the speed limit
If you notice a drunk driver, the first thing you should do is avoid passing that vehicle and stay clear. Write down the make, model, and color of the vehicle, as well as the license plate number, and pull over to call 911. Provide them with the location of the vehicle and a description of the driver’s behavior.
You can also get a Safe Ride Home from McDivitt Law Firm
For over a decade, the McDivitt Law Firm has provided free cab rides home to residents in Colorado Springs and Pueblo, to help ensure the roads are safe for everyone in our community. We’ve offered this program annually on certain major holidays, and since 2007, we’ve paid out over half a million dollars to provide more than 17,500 rides home for intoxicated drivers. Like our Facebook page to stay informed about the next time we offer this service.
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