Louisiana Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
Car Accident Claims Involving Drunk Drivers
Getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol is one of the most dangerous things a person can do. Despite this, however, countless Americans choose to drink and drive—resulting in tens of thousands of traffic accident fatalities in the U.S. every year. In Louisiana alone, there were 513 fatal accidents involving a driver with detectable alcohol in their system in 2020, nearly half of which were over the legal limit.
Even when drunk driving accidents are not fatal, victims are often left dealing with life-altering catastrophic injuries. They and their families will almost certainly face numerous significant financial burdens, not to mention unexpected physical and emotional challenges. All of this, coupled with the injustice of being injured by someone who was egregiously negligent, makes it incredibly difficult to get back on your feet after a drunk driving accident.
At Jones & Hill, we represent victims of drunk driving accidents in Louisiana, as well as the surviving family members of those wrongfully killed by drunk drivers. For over 35 years, our firm has been providing dedicated, personalized guidance for those facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, helping them heal and recover the fair compensation they were owed. If you or someone you love was hit by a drunk driver in Lake Charles, Alexandria, Oakdale, Oberlin, or any of the surrounding areas, turn to our team to learn how we can help you fight for the justice you are owed.
Contact Jones & Hill today at (318) 707-0515 to schedule a complimentary consultation and case evaluation with our legal team.
Louisiana Drunk Driving Laws
Like every other state, Louisiana outlaws driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. By law, no one in the state is allowed to operate a motor vehicle—including cars, motorcycles, trucks, boats, personal watercraft, and aircraft—with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.
Additionally, a person can be arrested for and charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI) if they are found to be “under the influence” of alcohol, legally obtained drugs, or a controlled substance, regardless of BAC. Under the state’s per se OWI law, a person can be convicted without actual proof of impairment.
Commercial vehicle operators in Louisiana are prohibited from operating any motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% and above, and those under the age of 21 may not operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.02% or higher.
Those who violate the state’s OWI laws are subject to strict criminal and administrative penalties, including possible jail time, steep fines, driver’s license suspension, and more. While this can help bring offenders to justice and deter others from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it does little to assist victims of drunk drivers.
Civil Drunk Driving Claims vs. Criminal OWI Cases
Civil drunk driving accident claims differ in several important ways from criminal OWI cases. In Louisiana, a person found guilty of the offense of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OW) can be sent to jail, made to pay various fines, have their driver’s license suspended, receive an ignition interlock device (IID), and face other criminal and administrative penalties. Criminal OWI cases are brought by the state and focus on punishing the offender for his or her actions. However, other than potentially providing a sense of justice, they do little in the way of helping victims.
A civil drunk driving case, on the other hand, is meant to compensate the victim and/or his or her family for various losses suffered due to the accident. Civil claims are completely separate from criminal proceedings; while a conviction could be favorable to your lawsuit, the outcome of a criminal OWI case does not necessarily affect your claim.
By filing a civil drunk driving accident claim, you can seek financial compensation for actual and general damages, such as:
- Emergency medical care costs
- Ambulance and hospital fees
- Past, current, and future medical care
- Rehabilitation and other ongoing treatment
- Lost income, wages, and employment benefits
- Lost or reduced earning capacity
- Lost future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Counseling services/therapy costs
- In-home assistance and care
In some cases, victims may even be able to recover exemplary (or “punitive”) damages. In contrast to the compensatory damages outlined above, exemplary damages are not intended to compensate the victim for specific economic or non-economic losses but, rather, to punish the defendant for acts of egregious negligence and/or willful or wanton misconduct.
If you were hurt by a drunk driver or if your loved one died in a crash, reach out to Jones & Hill today. Our Louisiana drunk driving accident lawyers can help you understand your legal rights, as well as the potential value of your claim and what types of damages you may be entitled to receive.
Can You Sue Someone Who Provided Alcohol to the Drunk Driver?
In some states, victims of drunk drivers can file lawsuits against restaurants, bars, establishments, social hosts, and vendors who provided alcohol to the drunk driver, knowing the individual was already intoxicated, underage, and/or likely to drive a vehicle and/or injury someone. These are known as dram shop and social host laws—but Louisiana does not have such laws.
In fact, the state of Louisiana has enacted anti-dram shop and anti-social host laws that protect vendors and social hosts from liability in nearly all situations. These laws state that those who provide alcohol to individuals who go on to cause injury cannot be held legally responsible when those injuries occur off the premises where alcohol was provided and when the individual is of legal drinking age (21 or older).
This means that you may be able to sue a vendor or social host if you were injured on the premises by someone who was served/over-served alcohol and/or when the person who caused your injury was not of lawful drinking age (under the age of 21).
Louisiana makes it very difficult to bring a personal injury or wrongful death claim against anyone other than the drunk driver; it is critical that you speak to an experienced attorney to fully understand your rights and options. Our team at Jones & Hill is happy to take your call and answer any questions you may have during a free initial consultation, either in one of our conveniently located offices or at your home/in the hospital.
Why You Need an Attorney
Being involved in any car accident is a terrifying experience. The ordeal is likely to be all the more overwhelming when the driver who caused the crash is intoxicated. These cases are often very complex, involving arrests, severe injuries, hospitalization, massive property damage, and other complicating factors. In some cases, the drunk driver may even flee the scene, making it even more difficult to file a claim for compensation.
At Jones & Hill we are well-versed in all types of automobile accident claims, including cases involving drunk drivers. We have successfully represented victims and the families of those killed by impaired motorists who were well above the legal limit, as well as those with traces of detectable alcohol in their systems, underaged drunk drivers, commercial vehicle operators, and others. Our Louisiana drunk driving accident attorneys conduct exhaustive investigations and work with a team of experts and specialists to build powerful cases for our clients.
When you turn to Jones & Hill, your team will be there for you every step of the way. We make it our mission to provide compassionate, caring guidance and aggressive advocacy from start to finish. We truly care about you and your recovery and are committed to doing everything we can to maximize your compensation.