Fatalities Caused by Drunk Driving Accidents

Knoxville Drunk Driving Injuries and Fatalities

Hartsoe Law Firm is devoted to helping victims injured by the negligence of others. Our experience in Knoxville car accidents provides us with the opportunity to help families devastated by drunk-driving injuries and fatalities. We are here to alleviate your legal burden and fight for your rights.

Drunk-Driving Statistics

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that nearly one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities are caused by drunk driving. Impairment by drugs and other substances account for 18 percent of deaths. Alcohol, drugs, and other substances impair almost every faculty required for safe driving. Some of these include:

  • Reaction time
  • Braking distance
  • Depth perception
  • Defensive driving
  • Response to stimulus
  • Sustained concentration
  • Alertness, mental clarity
  • Judgment, decision-making
Tennessee Drunk-Driving Laws

Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol is a crime. Tennessee drivers give their implied consent to be tested for DUI when they sign their license. State law imposes harsh penalties for underage drinkers and increasingly severe prison sentences for multiple offenders. The legal limit for a first-time offender is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent, or 8 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood. Drivers with BACs below this level may still be driving impaired. In addition to simple DUI, drivers may also be convicted of related crimes, including:

  • Vehicular assault
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Child endangerment
  • Aggravated vehicular assault while driving intoxicated

Generally, these crimes involve injuries or fatalities caused by drunk-driving and are prosecuted in state criminal court. Intoxicated motorists face license suspension or revocation of their driver’s license and imprisonment for a serious offense. Courts may impose criminal sanctions and fees on the driver. The victim and their family also has recourse under civil law.

Civil Liability for Injuries and Fatalities Caused by Drunk Driving

While severe, the punitive measures imposed for drunk driving can never make up for the serious injury or loss of a loved one. No amount of compensation can restore a human being, but surviving family members are entitled to recover for their losses. Those seeking justice for a drunk-driving fatality may recover civil damages through a wrongful death claim. This is a personal injury lawsuit that survives the decedent and allows surviving family members to recover for their loss. Wrongful death claims are based on negligence, or the breach of a legal duty, causing injury to another. Intoxicated drivers clearly breach their duty to safely operate their vehicles and are guilty of gross negligence. They may not intend to cause harm, but ultimately do by getting behind the wheel while impaired. If this reckless behavior causes an accident and seriously injures or kills someone, the at-fault driver is liable for negligence.

Wrongful Death Eligibility and Compensation

State law governs who is eligible to bring a wrongful death claim. Recovery is generally limited to immediate family members like spouses and children. If the decedent has no family, the action may be brought by the decedent’s estate. Eligible family members who prove that drunk driving directly caused the death can recover several types of damages. These include compensation for medical costs, funeral expenses, lost income, lost relationship (consortium), pain and suffering. Future costs are essential to wrongful death claims because they reward lost potential, earning capacity, and financial support of the family. Compensation for the loss of relationship likewise places value on the lost companionship, guidance, and protection of a spouse or parent.

Punitive Damages

Drunk driving cases can also involve the award of punitive damages against a drunk driver. Tennessee cases support an award of these additional damages to punish the wrongdoer and deter other people from drunk driving. The Hartsoe Law Firm routinely seeks punitive damages against drunk drivers.

Consult a Knoxville Wrongful Death Attorney

If you lost a loved one in a drunk-driving accident, or if you or a family member have been seriously injured, a caring Knoxville personal injury lawyer at Hartsoe Law Firm can help. We have successfully handled all types of cases involving drunk-driving fatalities, recovering millions of dollars for families across Tennessee. At Hartsoe Law Firm, we understand that no amount of money could make up for your loss, but believe that drunk drivers should be held accountable for their reckless conduct. We are dedicated to maximizing your recovery and helping you back on your feet. Call 865-804-1011 for a free consultation or contact us online.

Tennessee Injury Attorney Blog - Drunk Driving
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
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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