Everyday across the United States, there are thousands of car-related accidents. Many of these accidents involve serious property damage and physical injuries. Unfortunately, many of these car crashes occur as a result of another person’s negligent or reckless conduct and could have been avoided had the other driver been operating the other with greater care. Drunk drivers are a significant cause of many of the car-related accidents that occur throughout the country.
It should go without saying, but the more alcohol that one consumes, the more impaired that one becomes, which in turn affects the ability of one to operate a vehicle. Every day, about 30 people die across the United States in connection with car accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that annual cost of alcohol-related crashes is about $59 billion.
Tennessee Drunk Driving Accident Statistics
Car accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers is a serious problem in Tennessee. Between 2003 and 2012, 3,423 died in Tennessee from car crashes involving a drunk driver. In 2012, the rate of deaths per 100,000 in Tennessee was 4.6. This rate was a significantly higher than the national average of 3.3 deaths per 100,000 people. In Tennessee, men overwhelmingly outpace the rates of death with 7.5 deaths per 100,000 people, as compared to 1.8 for women.
Tennessee Drunk Driving Statute
Tennessee (as all states in the United States) imposes liability on a person who operates a vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol. Under Tennessee’s statute, it is unlawful for a person to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs that affect a driver’s ability “to safely operate a motor vehicle by depriving the driver of the clearness of mind and control of himself which he would otherwise possess.” To be considered under the influence of alcohol, the alcohol concentration in the person’s blood or breath must be .08% or higher.
Despite Tennessee’s law on drunk driving, many drivers still operate vehicles under the influence of alcohol. For example, in 2014, law enforcement agencies throughout the state arrested 29,544 people for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. This represented an increase of 639 arrests from the previous year.
Drunk Driving Personal Injury Claims
The financial costs associated with drunk-driving accident are significant. Mother Against Drunk Driving reported that taxpayer subsidies of drunk driving fatalities was $1.3 billion. The personal and emotional costs, however, are even more important than the financial costs of drunk driving accidents. Car accidents involving drunk drivers can cause serious permanent physical injuries or result in death. What is more, losing a loved one to an alcohol-related car accident has significant emotional costs.
All drivers on the road have a legal duty to operate vehicles safely in order to avoid causing accidents with other cars. Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, however, significantly impairs one’s ability to operate a vehicle safely, and may lead to serious injuries or death.
In order to recover damages, the injured party will have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident and establish that the other driver negligently operated the vehicle. In particular, the injured person will need to establish that the driver failed to operate the vehicle in a safe and reasonable manner. Examples of this include showing that the other driver failed to keep a proper lookout, failed to operate the vehicle at a safe speed, failed to provide proper warnings to other drivers, or failed to keep a safe distance between vehicles. If the other driver negligently caused the car accident then the injured party may be able to recover monetary compensation for injuries, including physical and emotional pain and suffering, loss of wages and loss of earning capacity, and medical expenses. Always contact an experienced Nashville, TN lawyer.