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Hammond Drunk Driver Accident

Thousands of people are injured or die as a result of drunk drivers every year, and these situations are almost always preventable if they had simply not gotten behind the wheel after drinking. If it can be proven that the drinking of alcohol was a substantial factor in the cause of the crash, the injured party can seek punitive or exemplary damages to punish the drunk driver in an effort to prevent further deaths caused by drunk drivers. Unfortunately, many insurance policies have clauses that exclude coverage for damages caused by a driver when they are intoxicated, meaning that a plaintiff may have difficulty recovering the damages without they deserve without a car accident lawyer if the insurance company refuses to pay.

Car accidents can be terrifying and life-changing events and they may be even harder to overcome knowing that the collision could have been prevented if the other driver was not under the influence of alcohol. If you or a loved one has been injured by someone operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, a Hammond drunk driver accident lawyer may be able to help you get the justice and compensation you need.

Common Drunk Driving Accident Scenarios in Hammond

During the holiday season, there is often more drinking because of celebrations such as office or family gatherings. Christmas parties are a staple in Hammond and in South Louisiana, and Mardi Gras is a popular celebration before the beginning of lent leading to Easter. Both occasions include a lot of drinking and drunk driving often results.

Crashes caused by drunk driving usually occur after midnight and very early the morning after bars are closed. On two-lane roads, there are situations in which a worker is on the way to work at one of the local chemical plants or refineries along the river and there might be a drunk driver heading home after a night in a barroom. That usually is between the hours of midnight and five or six in the morning. The injuries can be severe and tragic, and while a drunk driving accident lawyer can help recover damages, the consequences of these collisions often last for the rest of the victim’s lifetime.

Under Louisiana law, if the injured party was comparatively at fault by at least 25%, because it was proven that they were also intoxicated, there is no recovery for that person. If the injured person was drunk but lawfully stopped at a red light and was rear-ended, they would be able to recover 100% of their damages. The best way a Hammond driver can protect their right to recover damages in a drunk driving accident is to only get behind the wheel when sober.

However, even if the injured party was sober at the time of the accident and the defendant was drunk, if the injured party shares some of the fault in the accident, their recovery may be limited. An injured person’s recovery will be reduced proportionally to their degree of fault.

The Legal Process in Hammond After a Drunk Driving Collision

Generally, when there’s a motor vehicle crash involving a drunk driver, the ensuing process involves someone calling 911 and Hammond city police. The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s office or state police will arrive on the scene to investigate and will ask all parties involved for their driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. It is usually during that exchange between the driver and the investigating officer that the officer determines if one of the parties is intoxicated.

The well-trained police officer will conduct a field sobriety test and if it confirms their suspicion, they will order a breathalyzer test to measure the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If that is above 0.08 in Hammond or anywhere in Louisiana, the driver will be arrested for driving while intoxicated and their license will be immediately suspended or revoked.

The district attorney’s office will then review the investigating officer’s report and determine whether to prosecute the driver. The injured party in that situation may be a witness for the prosecution and might be subpoenaed to testify in criminal court as to the other driver’s condition such as their appearance, slurring of speech, or odor of alcohol on the breath. Charges can be brought against a drunk driver in Hammond City Court before a judge if the event occurred within Hammond’s city limits.

Are the Civil and Criminal Cases in Drunk Driving Accidents Handled Separately?

Injury cases and DUI cases are handled separately in Louisiana and in the city of Hammond. The criminal proceedings could be brought in Hammond or Amite. In a criminal proceeding, the injured party is not the person suing, they are a witness. The city or state will prosecute for a charge of criminal driving while intoxicated.

The injury case, however, is on the civil side of the law, and not a criminal prosecution. It is a claim of damages for personal injury brought against the negligent driver who was intoxicated. If that driver is convicted of driving while intoxicated, their conviction can be used in the civil proceeding to prove negligence and entitlement to punitive damages. An experienced drunk driving accident lawyer could use this evidence to maximize the compensation an injured person could receive.

How a Hammond DUI Wreck Lawyer Could Help

When a drunk driver harms someone after they get behind the wheel, they may owe the injured party compensation for the damage their recklessness caused. Driving under the influence is illegal and harms people across the country every day. If you have been the victim of a collision caused by someone operating a car while intoxicated, you may need the help of a Hammond drunk driving accident lawyer to get the money you need to pay medical bills, lost wages, and continuing care. Contact an attorney today to schedule a case consultation and get started.