A person dies about every 50 minutes in the United States because of a drunk driving accident. Even though drunk driving fatalities have decreased in the last three decades, thousands of people continue to be killed or injured by drunk drivers each year. In 2018, drunk driving deaths totaled 10,511.

Drunk driving car accidents result in catastrophic injuries that can change a person’s life forever. From traumatic brain injuries to paralysis, a victim can suffer irreparable harm. Victims deserve to receive fair compensation for their damages.

Who is Responsible for Damages in a Drunk Driving Accident?

Damages caused by a drunk driving accident include, but are not limited to:

  • Physical injuries and pain
  • Emotional distress 
  • Mental trauma
  • Medical expenses and personal care costs
  • Loss of wages, benefits, salary, and other income
  • Permanent disabilities and impairments
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Loss of enjoyment of or quality of life
  • Wrongful death damages

The value of a drunk driving claim depends on the facts of the case. The at-fault driver’s insurance company generally pays the injury claim. However, identifying who is at-fault for the crash is the key to determining who is responsible for the damages caused by the accident.

A drunk driver could be liable for damages if the drunk driver caused the accident. Being intoxicated is not conclusive proof that the driver caused the collision. There must be evidence that the driver’s actions resulted in the crash.

For example, the drunk driver crossed the center line and hit a vehicle head-on. The driver may have turned left when he did not have the right of way. You must show that the drunk driver’s actions directly led to the cause of the crash to hold the driver liable for damages.

What if the Other Driver Had Also Been Drinking Alcohol?

A driver can be impaired even though the driver’s BAC is below the legal limit of .08. Maryland has a driving while impaired (DWI) law stating a driver cannot operate a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol. Even though a driver’s BAC is below .08, other evidence may be used to prove that a driver’s ability to operate the vehicle was impaired. 

According to the CDC, about two alcoholic beverages result in a BAC of .02. At that level, a person may have trouble performing two tasks at once. If a driver has three alcoholic drinks, the BAC is about .05, resulting in reduced coordination and difficulty steering.

If police officers test both drivers in a drunk driving accident, the driver who did not cause the accident could have trouble recovering compensation for damages. He could also face a criminal charge for driving while impaired.

Maryland’s Contributory Negligence Laws and Impaired Driving

If a driver contributes to the cause of a car accident, that driver is barred from recovering any money for damages under Maryland’s contributory negligence laws. Even if one driver is 99 percent at fault and the other driver is 1 percent at fault, neither driver can recover money for an injury claim.

Pure contributory negligence is the harshest form of attributing fault and damages in a car accident. Only three other states and the District of Columbia apply the theory of pure contributory negligence in accident cases.

If a driver has any alcohol in his system at the time of a car accident, an insurance company might argue that the driver contributed to the cause of the accident. The alcohol in the driver’s system may not have been enough to presume that the driver was negligent. 

However, studies have shown that small amounts of alcohol can impair a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. If the insurance company convinces a jury that the driver was impaired, the jury may find the driver contributed to the accident, resulting in no compensation for that driver.

What Should You Do if You Were Not Drunk, but the Insurance Company is Blaming You for the Crash?

Contact a car accident attorney in Baltimore immediately. The insurance company has a team of professionals working to prove you contributed to the accident. You need a legal team on your side to fight for your best interests. 

Having some alcohol in your system is not absolute proof that you contributed to the cause of an accident. The other party must prove you contributed to the cause of the accident for you to lose compensation for your injury claim.

A personal injury lawyer analyzes how the accident occurred. The attorney might hire experts and accident reconstructionists to help prove that you did nothing to contribute to the cause of the accident. Without help, you could receive nothing for your injuries, financial losses, and other damages.