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Drunk driving is a top cause of car accidents in the United States. Each year, drunk drivers take the lives of tens of thousands of unsuspecting victims. In cases where victims do survive a drunk driving accident, their injuries can be catastrophic, resulting in extensive recovery time and excessive medical expenses.
With over four decades of experience holding impaired drivers accountable, the drunk driving accident lawyers at Ankin Law have earned a reputation for helping injured victims recover maximum compensation.
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Drunk Driving Laws in Illinois
Understanding the laws that govern drunk driving in Illinois can help you establish the elements of your claim. Whether you’re wondering who is liable for your drunk driving injuries, or what level of intoxication counts as driving under the influence, the basis for your answers lies in Illinois law. At Ankin Law, our DUI accident lawyers are eager to help you understand the laws that apply to your case, so you can make informed decisions regarding your drunk driving accident claim.
What Constitutes Driving Under the Influence in Illinois?
In Illinois, driving while intoxicated includes operating a vehicle while under the influence of any intoxicating compounds or substances. Intoxicating substances can include prescription medications, cannabis, alcohol, recreational drugs, and any other controlled substances.
The amount of alcohol in a driver’s system is determined by measuring a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). A driver’s blood alcohol content is his or her ratio of blood or breath to alcohol. The legal limit for a driver’s BAC in Illinois is .08. Even if a driver’s BAC is lower than .08, he or she can still be convicted of a DUI or held liable for a drunk driving accident.
Illinois also establishes a legal limit for cannabis consumption prior to driving. If a person’s tetrahydrocannabinol (cannabis) concentration (THC) exceeds 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood or 10 nanograms per milliliter of other bodily fluids, the driver is considered intoxicated. Though medicinal use of marijuana is legal in Illinois, the law still prohibits driving while high.
Establishing a driver’s intoxication in a drunk driving accident case without an illegal BAC or THC concentration relies on other evidence that a driver was impaired. A Chicago drunk driving accident lawyer at Ankin Law can help you gather evidence to prove a drunk driver is liable for the injuries you suffered.
Dram Shop Laws
In addition to laws that establish a legal limit for intoxication while driving, there are laws in Illinois that give cause to hold multiple parties liable for a Chicago drunk driving accident. The Liquor Control Act of 1934, also known as the Illinois Dram Shop Law, establishes a cause of action against businesses that sell liquor, and business or property owners of such places that serve alcohol, for injuries to an accident victim caused by an intoxicated driver.
In cases where Dram Shop Law is used as a cause of action in civil court, a plaintiff must prove that the establishment in question served alcohol or provided the liquor that caused the intoxication, and that intoxicated driving was the direct cause of his or her injuries. The liquor provided by the defendant must be a substantial factor in the cause of the accident, as minimal liquor amounts that do not lead to intoxication are not applicable. A Chicago drunk driving accident lawyer with Ankin Law can help you prove a third party was liable in your personal injury claim under dram shop laws.
Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyers at Ankin Law:
Contact the drunk driving accident lawyers at Ankin Law for a free consultation. Call us to get started with your financial recovery.
Pursuing Compensation for Injuries Caused by a Drunk Driver
If a drunk driver causes you to suffer injuries in a car accident, you can recover financial compensation for the resulting expenses. These expenses are referred to as compensatory damages, and their value is used to determine the value of your drunk driving accident settlement. Punitive damages are also often awarded in accident cases involving drunk drivers. In contrast to compensatory damages, which are designed to pay victims for their losses, punitive damages are intended to punish the negligent driver and prevent future instances of drunk driving.
There are several factors that can influence the amount of damages you can claim in your case, and, subsequently, influence the overall value of your settlement. Factors that impact your DUI accident settlement value include:
- The severity of the injuries you suffered, and their impact on your daily life
- Whether you acquired a disability or were permanently disfigured as a result of your injuries
- The amount of medical treatment your injuries require, and the cost of such treatment
- Your lost wages if you are unable to work because of the drunk driving accident
- Whether the accident caused the wrongful death of a passenger or family member
- The level of intoxication, or negligence, that caused your accident
- Your percentage of fault in causing the accident (if any)
Compensatory damages in car accident claims against drunk drivers are typically divided into two categories: economic and non-economic damages. The category within which a specific loss will fall depends on the nature of the expense. Direct financial losses like medical bills are categorized as economic damages, while emotional or indirect costs will fall into the non-economic damages category.
Economic Damages in a DUI Accident Case
Economic damages in cases involving drunk driving accidents are relatively straightforward. They are calculated based on the direct financial losses the victim suffers in the accident. Economic damages in a car accident case include:
- Initial and long-term medical expenses
- Present and future lost wages
- Costs for medical equipment, prescriptions, or modifications to the home to accommodate a disability
In cases involving fatal DUI accidents, a victim’s surviving family members can recover additional financial losses. These damages would be recovered through a wrongful death claim, and include traditional economic damages, as well as funeral and burial expenses and lost future financial support.
Non-Economic Damages Available After a Drunk Driving Accident
Non-economic damages are harder to demonstrate in an accident claim, as the evidence supporting them is more elusive than their counterpart. These damages include the emotional distress from the accident, as well as any intangible damages. Typically, they are calculated based on the value of the economic damages.
Non-economic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- PTSD, anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Disability or disfigurement
Just like economic damages, non-economic damages can be pursued through a wrongful death claim after a fatal drunk driving accident. In these cases, non-economic damages would extend to include loss of mentorship or relationship on behalf of the decedent’s dependents.
Don’t absorb the costs of an accident that wasn’t your fault. To learn how much your drunk driving case is worth, call the DUI Accident attorneys at Ankin Law.
How Can Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers Help My Claim?
Self-represented car accident claims are far less successful than those supported by an attorney. At Ankin Law, our experienced DUI accident lawyers can help you build a strong claim against the person responsible for your injuries.
When you choose Ankin Law to represent your case, you get:
A Compassionate Legal Team That Puts You First
Our attorneys know the toll a sudden accident can take on your well-being. At Ankin Law, you’re more than just a case number. We offer each and every client the respect they deserve when pursuing compensation against a drunk driver.
Aggressive Representation That Isn’t Afraid to Take Your Case to Trial
With over four decades of experience, our attorneys aren’t shy when it comes to trying your case. We know what tactics the defendant may use to devalue your claim, and how to dispute them. We will fight tenaciously to pursue justice on your behalf, so the drunk driver doesn’t walk away from your case without consequences.
Experienced Attorneys Who Know What It Takes to Win Your Case
We know what it takes to prove your accident claim to a judge, jury, or insurance company. From thoroughly investigating the facts of your case, to procuring evidence that demonstrates fault without a doubt, our DUI accident lawyers have what it takes to set your claim up for the best possible outcome.
Don’t let a drunk driver go unpunished for causing you to suffer; let Ankin Law fight for justice on your behalf.
Call Ankin Law for a FREE consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions About DUI Accidents in Chicago
1. Can a bar be held liable for drunk driving accidents?
Under the Liquor Control Act, also known as the Dram Shop Act, commercial vendors or bars that serve/sell alcoholic beverages to a patron who later causes a drunk driving accident can be held liable for resulting injuries.
2. Does marijuana use count as intoxication in a DUI accident claim?
In Illinois, driving under the influence is defined as operating a motor vehicle while impaired by any substance. The list of substances that impair driving include alcohol, marijuana (cannabis), prescribed drugs that are unsafe for driving, and other intoxicating compounds. Even when cannabis is prescribed by a doctor, it is still illegal to drive while high if the driver’s blood contains 5 nanograms or more per milliliter of THC. For texts involving other body fluids, a THC level of 10 nanograms per milliliter qualifies as intoxicated driving.
3. Can I sue even if I was partially responsible for the accident?
You can still file a lawsuit against a drunk driver if you were partially at-fault for your accident. Illinois uses a modified comparative negligence system when allocating liability in accident claims. This means victims can still recover damages through a car accident claim as long as they are less than 50% at-fault for the crash. However, the victim’s settlement award will be reduced by his or her percentage of liability.
Learn More About Drunk Driving Accident Claims in Chicago
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