OSHA Award

On behalf of John Kujawski

Victims can hold drunk drivers accountable through civil lawsuits

By now, every driver on the road has heard of the dangers involved with drunk driving. During the recent holiday season, public service messages warning about finding a sober ride if out celebrating predominated television and radio advertisements. The Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois State Police worked overtime over New Year's to crack down on drunk driving. In Illinois and nationwide, the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign spent millions on drunk driving prevention.

The good news is that in 2014, fewer than 1,000 fatalities occurred on Illinois roads. The bad news is that anyone at all needlessly died because of drunk driving. On New Year's Day in 2014, 70 people died because of drunk driving. Between 2009 and 2013, 15 people died on New Year's Day because of alcohol-related crashes; thousands were injured.

With the constant messages and awareness campaigns, it can be shocking just how widespread drunk driving still is. Unfortunately, it seems that police crackdowns and numerous awareness campaigns do not stop some drivers from making the terrible decision to drive after drinking too much. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 30 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities involve a drunk driver. That amounts to one death every hour in the United States involving alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents.

All too often, the victims of drunk driving accidents are innocent bystanders and children. Passengers in vehicles driven by drunk drivers are also at risk; anyone in or near a vehicle driven by a drunk driver is at increased risk of injury or death.

The aftermath of an accident

Many law enforcement officials in Illinois have called for stricter punishments for repeat drunk driving offenders. While drivers convicted of a DUI may have to install an ignition interlock device, attend treatment or community service, and spend some time in jail, often it feels as if drunk drivers just get a slap on the wrist. According to the CDC, drunk drivers involved in a fatal crash are seven times more likely to have a prior DWI.

While many laws and penalties in Illinois have proven effective at reducing repeat drunk driving, it only takes one bad decision to cause a lifetime of consequences for a person injured in a drunk driving accident.

Victims, and families of victims, do have legal options in the aftermath of a drunk driving accident. In addition to getting help with medical bills and lost wages, victims of drunk drivers can get a measure of justice through a civil lawsuit. If you or a loved one fell victim to a drunk driver, contact the experienced attorneys at Kujawski & Associates LLC, to discuss your options and to hold the driver responsible for his or her actions.

Keywords: Car accident, drunk driving, personal injury.