According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, in 2020, 11,654 people died in alcohol-related car accidents in the United States. And thousands more victims are hurt in preventable, drunk driving accidents every year. Under Arkansas law, victims of intoxicated drivers have a right to pursue compensation through an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.
Have you been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver in Little Rock, Arkansas? If so, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and more. Attorney Tim Reed has helped countless victims of drunk driving hold intoxicated drivers accountable. Contact the Reed Firm to schedule a complimentary case evaluation with a skilled car accident attorney.
Why Is Drunk Driving So Dangerous in Little Rock?
Driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs reduces a driver’s brain function and muscle coordination. As drivers’ blood alcohol levels increase, so do the negative effects on their central nervous system. Accordingly, it is illegal for a person to operate a motor vehicle if, at the time of operation, the alcohol concentration in the person’s breath or blood is eight hundredths (0.08) or more (based upon the definition of alcohol concentration under Arkansas law).
About 30 percent of all traffic accident fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. In fact, a person is killed in a drunk driving accident every 45 minutes in the United States.
Driving while intoxicated results in all of the following types of impairments that can increase the likelihood of an accident:
- Decline in visual functions, such as rapid tracking
- Decline in the ability to perform two tasks at the same time while driving
- Loss of judgment and altered mood
- Loss of small muscle control, such as the ability to focus your eyes
- Lowered alertness
- Release of inhibition
- Reduced coordination
- Reduced ability to track moving objects
- Difficulty steering
- Reduced response to emergency driving situations
- Poor muscle coordination
- Impaired reasoning, memory, and self-control
- Difficulty controlling speed
- Reduced information processing, such as visual search or signal detection
- Impaired perception
- Reduced ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately
Proving Liability in a Little Rock Drunk Driving Accident
You’ll need to prove liability to obtain compensation if you’ve been injured in a drunk driving accident. Under Arkansas law, when intoxicated drivers cause an accident, they are considered negligent drivers. Victims who suffer injuries can pursue compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the driver or drivers who caused the accident.
Negligence Per Se
If you can show that the driver who caused your injuries had a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, you will be able to show that the intoxicated driver violated an Arkansas statute, and that fact will constitute evidence of negligence. Any time you can show that the at-fault party violated a regulation, ordinance, or statute, it makes it easier for you to prove negligence and recover compensation. A skilled attorney will know where to look for such violations.
Arkansas is a modified comparative fault state. That means that, if you are partially at fault for an accident, your fault will be compared to the fault of the other party. Regardless of how many parties are at fault, a percentage of fault may be allocated to each party. Arkansas employs the 49 percent rule. As long as you are 49 percent at fault or less, you can still recover, but your damages will be reduced to reflect your percentage of fault.
For example, suppose the intoxicated driver is 90 percent responsible for the accident and you are 10 percent responsible. Your total damages are found to be $500,000. In that case, your award would be reduced by 10 percent (your percentage of fault), and you would recover $450,000.
To demonstrate the 49 percent rule, let’s say the other driver is 51 percent responsible for the accident and you are 49 percent responsible. Your total damages are found to be $100,000. In that case, your award would be reduced by 49 percent (your percentage of fault), and you would recover $51,000.
If you are more than 49 percent responsible, then you will recover nothing. For example, suppose the other driver is 50 percent responsible for the accident and you are 50 percent responsible. Your total damages are found to be $500,000. In that case, the award is not simply reduced by 50 percent (your percentage of fault). Instead, if you are 50 percent responsible or more, your award will be reduced to nothing.
Compensation Available After a Drunk Driving Accident
Victims of drunk driving can pursue several different types of compensation. Economic damages consist of easily quantifiable monetary losses, such as past, current, and future medical expenses, lost income, and property damage. Plaintiffs can also recover non-economic damages for the mental anguish, physical pain, loss of enjoyment of life, and the suffering they’ve endured.
The value of your case will be determined by the seriousness and long-term impact of your injuries. Generally, the more seriously injured you are, the more your case will be worth.
Punitive Damages May Be Available
Punitive damages may be available in drunk driving cases because you can often show that the defendant chose to drive while intoxicated even though he or she knew that doing so could seriously injure someone. In other words, you can likely show that the intoxicated driver drove while impaired, in disregard for the consequences. Punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in similarly reckless behavior.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
In Arkansas, victims of car accidents only have a limited amount of time to resolve a claim or file a lawsuit. This time limitation is called the statute of limitations. If you’ve been injured in a drunk driving accident, you only have three years to file a lawsuit against the intoxicated driver.
Contact an Arkansas Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
If you were injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver in Arkansas, attorney Tim Reed is here to help. He has extensive experience holding intoxicated drivers accountable by obtaining compensation for their victims. Contact the Reed Firm as soon as possible to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about your rights.