Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs is responsible for nearly a third of all motor vehicle accident fatalities in Pennsylvania and all across the United States. Car crashes caused by drunk drivers in Pittsburgh or elsewhere in Pennsylvania are charged as “Driving Under the Influence” (DUI) or “Driving While Intoxicated” (DWI).
Unfortunately, authorities are not doing enough to discourage those who have already been caught driving while intoxicated from driving drunk again. Statistics by the National Department of Transportation show that DUI drivers are often repeat offenders.
What Makes Drunk Driving So Dangerous?
“Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs does not go well with operating a vehicle for multiple reasons,” says our Pittsburgh drunk driving accident attorney from SMT Legal. “Multiple studies have shown that alcohol-impaired drivers suffer from reduced reaction times, diminished ability to concentrate and focus on the road, impaired vision, poor judgment, and a higher likelihood of falling asleep while driving.”
All these factors make drunk driving extremely dangerous. Unfortunately, many drivers do not fully understand basic risk concepts associated with operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances (or else, more than 37,000 Americans would not die in drunk driving car accidents each year).
Fact #1: Each year, more than 1.4 million drivers are arrested for driving with blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than .08, which is the legal BAC limit in most states, including Pennsylvania.
Fact #2: Individuals in the 21-25 age group are responsible for nearly 25 percent of all drunk driving accidents in Pennsylvania and all across the U.S. The rate declines steadily for each age group older than 25.
Common Drunk Driving Accident Injuries in Pittsburgh
Unfortunately, victims often sustain severe injuries in the aftermath of a DUI accident in Pittsburgh. At SMT Legal, our personal injury lawyers regularly help clients who have sustained the following:
- Spinal cord injuries with paralysis
- Other severe neck or back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Open head wounds
- Broken or dislocated bones
- Severe lacerations or puncture wounds
- Internal organ damage or internal bleeding
- Crush injuries or amputations
Drunk Driving Accident Statistics
According to data available from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, there were 9,380 total collisions involving alcohol-impaired drivers during the latest reporting year across the Commonwealth. Out of these incidents, 299 people lost their lives and nearly 6,000 people sustained injuries.
The data from the Department of Transportation indicates that 28% of all traffic fatalities during the latest reporting year in the Commonwealth were related to alcohol-impaired drivers.
Time Limit to File a Drunk Driving Accident Case
Victims who have been injured in a drunk driving crash in Pittsburgh have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit in these cases. In Pennsylvania, the personal injury statute of limitations is two years from the date an injury occurs. This gives DUI accident victims a two-year window with which to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent party. Failing to file a lawsuit within this timeframe will result in the victim being unable to recover the compensation they deserve.
These statutory deadlines do not apply to auto insurance carrier deadlines. Most vehicle accidents need to be reported very soon after the collision occurs, or the insurance carrier could delay or deny the claim.
What Does the Law Say About Drunk Driving?
As in most other states, in Pennsylvania, the legal limit for driving under the influence is .08 BAC. According to multiple studies, between 2 and 4 drinks within an hour will put the vast majority of people at .08 BAC.
However, the number of alcoholic beverages that you need for your BAC level to reach the legal limit (.08) will depend on a variety of factors, including but not limited to weight, gender, the type of the drink, time of day, and whether you drink regularly or rarely.
Our experienced drunk driving accident attorneys explain that Pennsylvania law classifies all motorists who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs as “negligent” or “careless.” However, in many cases, seeking compensation for your injury caused by a drunk driving is not as easy as it might seem.
What Kind of Compensation Can Victims Recover in a Drunk Driving Accident Case in Pittsburgh?
If you or somebody you care about has been injured in an accident caused by the careless or negligent actions of a drunk driver, you may be entitled to various types of compensation for your losses. This includes the following:
- Full compensation for medical bills caused by the crash
- Any lost income if you cannot work while you recover
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of personal enjoyment damages
- Any household out-of-pocket expenses you incur
- Property damage expenses
Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop Liability and Drunk Driving
When it comes to recovering damages after a drunk driving crash in Pittsburgh or elsewhere in Pennsylvania, you may also be able to sue the bar, club, restaurant, hotel, or any other establishment that was negligent and careless when selling or serving alcohol to the drunk driver prior to the crash.
Under Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop Act, establishments and businesses that have a license to serve alcohol have a duty to exercise due care and not serve or sell alcoholic beverages to a visibly intoxicated person. Speak to our drunk driving accident lawyers at SMT Legal to determine liability in your case.
Pittsburgh Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers
If you or somebody you love has been injured in an accident caused by an alcohol-impaired driver in Pittsburgh, seek legal assistance immediately. Contact SMT Legal today. Our team will investigate every aspect of your case and work to secure full compensation for your losses. We are not afraid to stand up to aggressive insurance carriers or at-fault parties.