Holidays are times for relaxing, getting together with friends and family, and blowing off steam from the stress of work. But holidays are also fraught with certain dangers, and not just from overeating. Drunk driving remains an overwhelming concern of police and city officials, despite decades of warnings, education, public service announcements, DUI checkpoints, and increased penalties. And one of the most dangerous times during the entire year to be on the roadways is the eve before Thanksgiving.
Most people assume that New Year’s Eve or July 4th pose the greater risk of encountering a drunk driver or other reckless motorists but the so-called “black Wednesday” before Thanksgiving is number one for highway accidents and fatalities from drunk drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 5,500 persons were killed in alcohol-related car accidents between 2000 and 2009 over the Thanksgiving holiday, making it the deadliest holiday of the year for 4 out of the last 5 years, surpassing New Year’s Eve.
For some reason, people flock to the bars or otherwise indulge in drinking the night before Thanksgiving. It may because the last major holiday to let loose was in July, over 4-months prior, or because they will have to break bread with relatives with whom you share little in common. In any event, with a 4-day work break looming for many persons, it is tempting to hit the bars and clubs, or to party with coworkers the evening before Thanksgiving Day.
Avoid Becoming a Statistic
The best way to avoid drinking and driving or to encounter intoxicated motorists is to simply stay home, but the temptation to party with others is too great for many of us. However, you can easily avoid drinking and driving yourself by following these commonsense suggestions:
- Have a designated driver with you. If you can convince someone in your group who does not drink or who will abstain from drinking, then have that unique individual come along. You can provide motivation by offering to pay for that person’ dinner that night or some other night.
- Hire a Lyft or Uber. Ride-sharing services are geared up for holidays. Although they will inevitably charge more during surge times, which will be the evening hours before Thanksgiving Day, it is well worth the extra cost in avoiding a DUI.
- Use public transportation. If you are in the city, buses and trains usually run later than usual and are a cost-effective way of getting around without getting behind the wheel, being a car passenger with an intoxicated driver, or having to deal with drunk motorists at all.
- Get together with friends and hire a limousine. Many limo services will be available to you and your group for several hours and take you to multiple locations if that is your game plan. If you have a group of 4 or more, spreading the expense will be an inexpensive and very enjoyable way of spending the evening.
If you wish, you can spend the night downtown at a hotel or motel if you do not mind the cost, but with ride-sharing or a cab, you can save much more.
Accidents on Thanksgiving Eve
If you are involved in an injury accident on Thanksgiving eve and you were not at fault, then it is best to retain a car accident lawyer from Tetzel Law. On this night, the chances that the responsible driver was intoxicated is higher than on most other evenings.
Parties at Fault
There are several scenarios to consider if you were injured by an intoxicated motorist. For instance, if an intoxicated driver was transporting you when he or she caused an accident in which you were injured, then the insurer for that driver may assert you were comparatively negligent by agreeing to ride with an intoxicated driver, especially if the driver was clearly under the influence or had an elevated blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level, such as .15% or higher. You are presumed to be under the influence if your BAC is 0.08%. As a passenger you will not be held comparatively at fault for the accident, but your damages can be reduced by your degree of comparative fault in riding with an intoxicated driver. For example, if your damages are $100,000 and your degree of fault is 40%, you will recover $60,000. Be aware that you could be held proportionately liable if your own intoxicated driver caused an accident if you somehow contributed to the accident. This could conceivably occur if you spilled a drink on the driver or otherwise provided a distraction that led to the accident.
Another situation is if you are a passenger in a car where your sober driver fails to stop at a stop sign at a 4-way controlled intersection, and an intoxicated driver does likewise. In this case, you should bring claims against both drivers and allow their insurers to work out their respective degrees of fault. Retain car accident lawyer Paul Tetzel to handle such claims.
Dram Shop Liability
You may also have a claim against the business establishment that served the intoxicated motorist, so long as you can demonstrate that the business that served the driver did so while the individual was obviously intoxicated, and then allowed him to drive. You may be able to show this if the accident occurred shortly after the motorist left the bar, club or restaurant; had an elevated BAC level; and/or exhibited obvious signs of intoxication to the arresting officer. These typically include slurred speech, poor performance on field sobriety tests, confusion over directions, or a confession.
Damages in Car Accidents
Your damages in a car accident depend on the nature and extent of your injuries and typically include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Lost earning capacity
- Emotional trauma
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
You cannot recover punitive damages in a car accident in Massachusetts unless the accident resulted in fatal injuries. In wrongful death cases, the administrator for the decedent’s estate brings the claim on behalf of the immediate family members. The standard for punitive damages is whether the defendant exhibited an evil motive or a reckless indifference to the safety of others.
Retain Car Accident Lawyer Paul Tetzel
Paul Tetzel is a Boston car accident lawyer who has handled injury claims involving intoxicated drivers and the complex issues that some of these cases present. By having Mr. Tetzel handle your claim from the outset, you stand a much greater chance of recovering the maximum compensation possible for your claim. Call his office today at (617) 933-3858 for a free consultation about your injury claim.