Drunk Driving Accident Victims (DWI/DUI)

Experienced Car Crash Attorney Protecting the Rights of Knoxville Residents

It is a crime to drive under the influence of alcohol or other impairing drugs in Tennessee. There is a presumption that if you drive with a blood alcohol content of .08% or more, you are too impaired to operate a motor vehicle. A drunk driver who causes injuries may be subject not only to criminal proceedings and penalties, but also a civil suit for damages filed by the crash victim. If you are a car accident victim in the Knoxville area, knowledgeable lawyer Mark Hartsoe may be able to help you bring a claim for the compensation that you need.

Bringing a Negligence Claim against a Drunk Driver

Ordinarily, a plaintiff in a car accident case must establish four main elements to prove negligence: the defendant's duty, a breach of duty, causation, and actual damages. However, violating the Tennessee criminal statutes that prohibit driving under the influence is considered negligence per se. This means that an accident victim who is injured by someone convicted of drunk driving may not need to prove the usual elements of negligence. Instead, there may be a presumption that the drunk driver was negligent by virtue of his or her intoxication. In that case, the victim will only have to prove causation and damages.

Unlike car accident cases caused by distracted or even aggressive driving, which generally provide only compensatory damages to a victim, he or she can potentially also seek punitive damages from a drunk driver. The punitive damages are intended to serve as a punishment and a deterrent.

Tennessee law favors holding drunk drivers individually responsible, rather than holding bars or other establishments liable for serving the drunk driver under what is called a "dram shop" law. Under Section 57-10-101, the proximate cause of injuries is the consumption of alcoholic beverages, not the sale of them. This immunizes many establishments that serve beer, wine, or liquor from suit.

However, under T.C.A. § 57-10-102 there are exceptions to this general preference. If a plaintiff is able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in front of a jury of 12 people that an establishment's sale of alcohol to a drunk driver was the proximate cause of a personal injury or wrongful death, and either the drunk driver was known to be under the age of 21 or the drunk driver was obviously and visibly intoxicated at the time of the sale, it is possible to recover damages from the entity that sold the alcohol.

In some cases, it may be appropriate to pursue a bar, restaurant, or retailer. For example, if the drunk driver is not insured, a helpful way to seek the necessary compensation might be to pursue the establishment that knowingly sold him or her the alcohol, the consumption of which directly caused the accident.

Contact a Motor Vehicle Collision Lawyer in Knoxville to Pursue Compensation

Drunk driving accidents can be devastating. People who have been hurt by intoxicated drivers in Knoxville or the nearby communities should consult a motor vehicle collision attorney without delay. Even if a drunk driver is not convicted in a criminal trial, it may be possible to hold him or her liable in civil court due to the typically lower standard of proof. The Hartsoe Law Firm can pursue every potential avenue of relief in a drunk driving accident case. For a free initial consultation, call 865-804-1011 or contact us via our online form.

Client Reviews
I was on my way to Atlanta and a huge truck rear-ended me and knocked me off the side of the road. I was scared. Didn’t know what to do. I tried working with the insurance company. They are just difficult to work with. I had to call somebody to take care of me. So, My brother told me to call Mark Hartsoe. As soon as I called Mark Hartsoe, he let me know real quick that everything was going to be okay and that he would take care of everything. And, he did. He got me a great settlement. He took the worry off of me. Mickey Anderson
I was hit coming home late at night by a drunk driver who took off. And the next day I was able to track down his vehicle and get the state police involved. At that point, a family friend recommended that I talk to Mark Hartsoe. Pretty much at that point, Mark handled the police, the insurance company and the guy who hit me. Settled with the actual person that hit me. Outside of that, everything came out great. Did not have to go to court. Got a great settlement. Got my car replaced. Got a check. Mark Hartsoe is my lawyer. Nate Holder
I was involved in a motorcycle accident. It was a head-on collision. I broke my arm, injured by knee. I was out of work for a long time and had medical bills, other expenses. A personal friend handed me a card for Mark Hartsoe. I called Mark Hartsoe from the side of the road and he took care of everything. My case was settled out of court. I received a great settlement. Bike was totaled, motorcycle was replaced. It was easy, painless. About as painless as something like this can be. This is why my lawyer is Mark Hartsoe. John Lusinger
I wanted to thank you for the excellent representation and your ability to handle the situation so well with such compassion and strength. We appreciate all of your help, concern and for answering my many questions. It has been a difficult road to travel but when we come across people like you, it really helps to lighten the load. We just wanted you to know how much we appreciate what you’ve done and your ability to handle the situation so well. S. Carter
Thank you so much for all the work you did on our case. We received more than we expected. You were great through the whole time from the first meeting until the last. Thank you so very much. Sam & Judy Kachar