New Orleans is world famous for its cuisine, music, and nightlife, which often includes plenty of alcohol. And yet, we all know that with alcohol often comes indiscretion—like drunk texting, drunk driving, public vomiting, and embarrassing sexual exploits. While people from all over love to have a great time in the Big Easy, dangerous and sometimes deadly accidents can occur when negligent or irresponsible people get behind the wheel of a car after indulging in all that New Orleans has to offer.
The risks of drunk driving have been extensively studied and are widely known. Unfortunately, this doesn't stop some New Orleans residents and tourists from putting themselves and others at risk.
In New Orleans, as well as throughout the state of Louisiana, a driver is over the legal limit for alcohol if they have a BAC of 0.08 or greater and risk getting arrested and charged with a DWI or DUI.
What if said person under the influence gets involved in a car accident with another person and ends up injuring them? While the police file criminal charges against the drunk driver, who would be looking out for you if you've been hurt as a result?
Injuries From New Orleans Drunk Driving Accidents
When drunk driving accident victims in New Orleans sustain severe injuries, they aren't only dealing with physical pain. There's the emotional trauma and overwhelming stress of an injury or loss, as well as the anxiety of dealing with medical bills from hospital stays, doctor visits, and etc. Some injured victims may be unable to work because of their injuries, causing further financial stress.
Severe crashes, especially those that occur at higher speeds, can cause serious and sometimes deadly injuries. If you or someone you love has sustained severe injuries in a New Orleans drunk driving accident, you need a skilled New Orleans car accident lawyer.
Examples of drunk driving accident injuries, as noted by Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, include:
Broken Bones and Fractures
Sometimes, broken bones don't always fall under the umbrella of serious injuries. However, when a car collision occurs at high speeds, drivers and their passengers could face multiple breaks and/or crushed bones. These types of fractures often require corrective surgery, sometimes using pins, screws, and metal plates for reconstruction. Accident victims could face lifelong struggles, as well as be more prone to arthritis in these areas as they age, as a result.
Accident victims can suffer mild to severe traumatic brain injuries (TBI), depending on the force of impact. Blunt force trauma to the head from an object can cause a TBI. Factoring in high speeds from a car accident, a victim can suffer a TBI from the jolt of the crash alone, and young children are especially vulnerable to TBIs and might suffer permanent developmental brain damage. Individuals who suffer permanent brain damage from a TBI may face life-altering challenges with their memories, motor skills, and cognitive skills.
Among the most common car accident injuries are soft tissue neck injuries. When a car collision occurs, a person's neck whips back and forth and that often causes damage to the soft tissue. Minor cases can heal quickly without too much intervention. However, severe cases might cause accident victims to deal with chronic neck and shoulder pain and lingering headaches, as well as posture problems. Fractured neck vertebrae and bulged discs are other neck injuries a victim could experience in a drunk driving accident.
When a car accident happens, depending on the force of impact and how exactly the vehicles collide, the human body can contort into a variety of different positions. These unnatural twists can cause injuries such as cracked vertebrae, as well as bulged and/or slipped discs, causing drunk driving accident victims who suffer from these back injuries chronic discomfort and pain. Victims might even need corrective surgery to alleviate their pain, but sometimes surgery doesn't help and victims can be left suffering from pain for the rest of their lives.
Spinal Cord Injuries
While all severe accident injuries are catastrophic and costly, spinal cord injuries are among the worst a drunk driving accident victim can experience. While some minor spinal cord damage can heal to full recovery, some more severe cases of spinal cord injuries cause permanent damage and could result in full or partial paralysis. The spinal cord is a very important part of the human body because it carries messages to and from the brain throughout the body's central nervous system. A victim can suffer the most loss when an injury occurs high on the spinal column, closer to the brain. If a car wreck victim receives a spinal cord injury near the neck, they might experience tetraplegia. In other words, total paralysis from the neck down.
In very serious drunk driving accidents, drivers and passengers might have their limbs pinned or crushed in a vehicle during the collision impact, which could result in the loss of said limbs. Amputation can be absolutely traumatic, and learning how to use a prosthetic device can be constantly frustrating. Not only that, some amputee individuals could suffer a condition called phantom limb pain, where, even though the limb is gone, nerve endings continue to send pain signals to the brain. Amputation can drastically change a person's daily routines and may require costly additions such as home accessibility modifications, in-home aides, and etc.
Third-Party Liability in Louisiana Drunk Driving Accidents
If you have been involved in a drunk driving accident, are you able to hold the establishment that served said alcohol to the drunk driver liable for damages? While many states in America have "dram shop laws" that hold restaurants, bars, and social hosts liable, Louisiana is not one of them. If a drunk driver collides into you, they are liable. In fact, Louisiana law goes as far as to protect establishments and social hosts.
Under Louisiana law, establishments and social hosts are actually offered some protections from drunk driving accident liability:
● Consuming alcoholic beverages is the proximate cause of injury and property damage, not serving beverages to another.
● No business or its employees who sell or serve alcohol can be liable for injury, death, or property damage caused by an intoxicated person.
● No social host who serves or supplies alcohol to guests can be liable for injury, death, or property damage caused by an intoxicated person.
However, three situations exist in which a Louisiana court might hold a third party partially liable for a drunk driving accident. These third parties include:
● Businesses, employees, servers, and social hosts who serve alcohol to a minor.
● A person who forces another to consume alcoholic beverages.
● A business, employee, or another party that falsely represents that a beverage has no alcohol content.
So, by Louisiana law, drunk drivers are the ones that need to take responsibility for the motor vehicle accidents they cause.
Recovering Damages After a New Orleans Drunk Driving Accident
An important thing to understand if you're involved in a drunk driving accident: civil charges and criminal charges are not the same. While the police may arrest the drunk driver for a DUI, you'll still need a lawyer that can fight for your rights in civil court, which may involve filing a New Orleans car accident claim or lawsuit to seek compensation.
Louisiana law allows you to sue the drunk driver for damages to recover losses related to your injuries. With the right legal team behind you, you can expect to recover the following damages after your auto accident:
● Medical expenses such as ambulance and emergency services, emergency room visit, surgery, hospitalization, diagnostic imaging, doctor visits, follow-up care, and prescriptions.
● Future medical expenses that require a lengthy recovery or ongoing care because of permanent damage.
● Rehabilitation costs for visits to specialists, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, and psychologists, who can help victims recover lost functions and cope with disabilities.
● Costs of assistive devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, canes, walkers, and prosthetic devices.
● Lost wages from missing work as a result of injury, hospitalization, treatment, and recovery.
● Lost future wages when an accident victim has an injury that prevents them from returning to work or finding any type of employment.
● Damages to the victim's vehicle.
● Rental vehicle costs.
● Physical pain and suffering.
● Emotional pain and suffering.
● Loss of quality of life.
● Loss of consortium with a spouse.
● Other non-economic damages that might apply to a specific case.
If you've lost a family member in a drunk driving accident, you may also be eligible to recover some of the aforementioned damages, since Louisiana law entitles eligible family members to bring a lawsuit against an at-fault drunk driver. Note that eligibility to file a wrongful death suit depends on the relationship with the deceased. Other recoverable damages can include funeral costs and burial or cremation expenses, as well as non-economic losses specific to the relationship between the deceased and the survivors.