Chicago citizens are reminded of the dangers of drinking and driving far too often. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 47 percent of Illinois motor vehicle fatalities involve alcohol. That statistic translates to 918 drunk driving fatalities in 2011. The problem extends throughout the country. Statistics indicate that every 30 minutes, a person dies in the United States because of an impaired driver. Those who survive drunk driving accidents often sustain serious, life-altering injuries. If a loved one was injured or killed as a result of a drunk driving accident, you may be entitled to recover damages. It is important to contact an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer to help you understand your rights.
Drunk drivers often kill innocent people. According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, a 31 year-old man was driving an SUV that veered off the road, crashed into trees and rolled over. The crash killed his passenger, an 18 year-old senior at Wheaton Warrenville South High School. This single car accident took place while the driver was heading south on Shaffner Road near Mack Road. Both the passenger and driver were taken to Central DuPage Hospital where the young student was pronounced dead after suffering from massive head injuries. The driver was arrested for driving under the influence (“DUI”) and later charged with two counts of DUI causing a death.
The State of Illinois is working diligently to prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Division of Traffic Safety, instituted a campaign aimed at reducing alcohol-related traffic fatalities, with the catchy slogan: “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” According to the IDOT’s website, research shows that the most effective way to deter an impaired person from driving a vehicle is the threat of being caught. With this in mind, the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” efforts include a great deal more enforcement. The campaign utilizes a variety of media tactics to ensure that the public is well informed about the added enforcement. The simple logic is this: if there are fewer impaired drivers on the road, there will be fewer accidents, fewer injuries and fewer deaths.
Not only is driving under the influence a crime, which can send the driver to prison for any number of years, depending on the circumstances, but there are often innocent victims, who suffer multiple injuries and sometimes death. Victims of drunk driving accidents may be entitled to compensation for their pain and suffering. People who bring claims involving car accidents typically have to prove the following elements: 1) the person who caused the accident had a legal responsibility called a “duty of care;” 2) he or she failed to live up to that legal responsibility called the “breach of duty;” 3) the accident resulted from the breach of duty and is called “causation;” and 4) injuries and their consequences also known as “damages” resulted from the accident.
Families of victims killed in a drunk driving accident may also have an opportunity to bring a wrongful death claim. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is necessary to help you understand your rights to a recovery.