According to the Centers for Disease Control, roughly 30 people are killed in the United States every day in alcohol-related car crashes. This amounts to more than one every hour. Accidents involving drug use are more difficult to measure, but the CDC says that drugs other than alcohol are linked to about 18% of motor vehicle driver deaths. When someone is seriously injured or killed due to a drunk or drugged driver, it can be devastating to their families. For example, it is nearly impossible to quantify the damage done to children who lose one (or both) parents because of such a careless and senseless act. If you or someone close to you has been injured in an alcohol or drug-related accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your all your injuries. Before talking with the responsible party’s insurer, consult an experienced Chicago alcohol and drug accident attorney that can advise you of your rights and counsel you on the best way forward to recovering full damages.
When is a Driver Considered Legally Intoxicated?
In most car accidents, the driver that was most responsible for the collision is considered to be “at fault.” In many of these cases, multiple drivers may share partial responsibility for the accident depending on the individual circumstances. However, when a driver is legally intoxicated under Illinois law, they are automatically considered to be “at fault” because their judgment is impaired and they never should have been on the road in the first place.
To meet the threshold for legal intoxication in Illinois, a driver must have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08 or higher. In addition, since the legal age to consume alcohol in Illinois is 21 and over, drivers under age 21 with any amount of alcohol in their system are automatically deemed responsible for the crash. There are instances when a driver has a BAC level of less than .08 but has other inhibiting substances in their system. In these cases, the driver can still be shown to be automatically at fault if their alcohol and/or drug consumption led to careless driving such as speeding, weaving or swerving between lanes.
Who can be Held Responsible for an Accident Related to Alcohol or Drug Use?
The intoxicated driver is not the only party that may be liable when there is car crash involving drugs or alcohol. Some other potentially responsible parties include:
- The Bar or Restaurant that Served the Driver: Under the Illinois Dram Shop Act, you may have a claim against the establishment that provided the alcohol if it can be shown that the alcohol sold was the “proximate cause” of the driver becoming intoxicated and the intoxication was at least one of the causes of the damages to the plaintiff.
- The Driver’s Employer: If the intoxicated driver was working at the time, the employer may also be held liable for damages.
- An Underage Driver’s Older Friends, Siblings or Parents: In cases when an intoxicated minor causes an accident, the person(s) who provided the substances that led to the intoxication can be held responsible.
At Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C., we have over 20 years of experience representing victims of alcohol and drug-related accidents in Chicago, Cook County, and throughout the United States. Our legal team thoroughly investigates these cases to identify and aggressively pursue all responsible parties to ensure that our clients receive full compensation for their physical and emotional losses. Contact an experienced Chicago alcohol and drug related accident lawyer at HM&M today for a free consultation.