Seattle Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
Residents in Seattle take pride in having a vibrant nightlife scene, but the city’s collection of bars, nightclubs, and restaurants often means that some people will become intoxicated while consuming alcohol. When such individuals decide to drive, they are at considerable risk of causing motor vehicle accidents.
While fault is usually apparent in car crashes caused by drunk drivers, the consequences can be quite severe for most victims. Even though a person who commits a driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol offense will usually face criminal charges, people injured in these accidents must take action to recover compensation for their injuries.
If you suffered severe injuries or your loved one was killed in a drunk driving accident anywhere in the greater Seattle area, understand that you could be entitled to various damages. You will benefit from working with a skilled personal injury attorney.
The Law Offices of Jeffrey R. Caffee will fight to help you obtain every dollar that you are entitled to. Our firm can provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call our Seattle car accident attorneys at (206) 312-0954 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.
Do I Need A Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer?
Most people rightfully assume that fault is evident in a drunk or drugged driving accident and believe that they will not need attorneys. Insurance companies for the negligent drivers want you to believe this and will encourage this line of thinking because they know people who do not have legal representation will be much easier to settle with for far lower amounts.
You are going to want a lawyer to be the person who negotiates your settlement, as people who attempt to handle their negotiations can often unknowingly step into many traps that ultimately reduces their final award. You should avoid speaking to any insurance company until you have legal representation.
Do not make any recorded statement to an insurance company or claims adjuster. Even though you might think that there is no harm in explaining your view of a crash, any admission of negligence on your part can and will be used against you.
In many drunk driving accidents cases, insurance companies will try to offer victims lump-sum settlements before they have even had the chance to contact an attorney. No matter how much you might need a quick settlement, it is assuredly less than what you are rightfully owed.
Why Choose [Firm-Name] To Handle My Case?
The Law Offices of Jeffrey R. Caffee has been fighting to protect the rights of injury victims in Seattle and throughout the state of Washington for over ten years. Our firm will be dedicated to helping you obtain a fair and full settlement, but we can file a lawsuit to take your case to court when an insurance company does not make a satisfactory offer.
The National Trial Lawyers has named Jeffrey R. Caffee a Top 100 Trial Lawyer every year since 2013. He received the American Bar Association Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section Trial Academy Scholarship in 2011 and was honored by The International Academy of Trial Lawyers with an Award for Advocacy for distinguished achievement in the art and science of advocacy in 2009.
Mr. Caffee is a member of the Tacoma Pierce County Bar Association, Washington State Bar Association, and King County Bar Association. He earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Notre Dame Law School and was a research assistant at the University of Notre Dame.
You should also know that you will not have to worry about paying legal fees upfront when you work with The Law Offices of Jeffrey R. Caffee because we handle cases on a contingency fee basis. In other words, you won’t have to pay any legal fees until you receive a monetary award.
Types of Drunk Driver Accident Cases We Handle
Revised Code of Washington (RCW) § 46.61.502 is the state DUI law. Under this law, a person commits a criminal offense if they drive while they are under the influence of or affected by alcohol, marijuana, or any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol, marijuana, and any drug.
RCW § 46.61.502 provides that a person commits a “per se” DUI offense if they drive while they have a breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more, or if they drive while having a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng/ml). Per se is the Latin phrase for “by itself” or “in itself,” and a driver whose BAC or THC level satisfies these minimums is presumed to be impaired.
For a first DUI offense in Washington, an offender could face a sentence of up to 364 days in jail, fines of up to $5,000, and a driver’s license suspension of up to 90 days. When a person had a BAC of 0.15 or higher or refused to submit to chemical testing, the license suspension can be one year. Fines and imprisonment time increase for subsequent DUI offenses, and some offenders may be required to comply with electronic home monitoring (EHM).
Keep in mind that any criminal case against the driver involved in your DUI accident is going to be independent of your civil action. The distinction is important because it is entirely possible that a driver may be acquitted or otherwise avoid a conviction for their underlying criminal charge, but they could still be held liable in civil court.
This is possible mainly because the burden of proof is far higher for the prosecutor in a criminal case than it is for a person who is filing a personal injury lawsuit. A DUI offender’s guilt needs to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt (the highest legal standard) while a plaintiff in a civil claim only needs to show that their injuries result from another party’s negligence by a preponderance of the evidence, a much lower standard that simply means the weight of the evidence (more than 50 percent) supports the plaintiff’s claims.
RCW § 66.44.200 prohibits the sale of liquor to any person who is apparently under the influence of alcohol, and RCW § 66.44.270 prohibits people from selling, giving, or otherwise supplying minors (people under 21 years of age) with alcohol. Violations of these statutes by licensed vendors of alcoholic beverages can result in possible dram shop claims.
Dram shop was the name of bars, taverns, and establishments that sold liquor in quantities called drams, but the phrase now refers to laws that allow people to hold negligent bars and restaurants liable for DUI accident injuries. Dram shop actions can provide valuable sources of compensation for people when drunk drivers may not have the personal wealth or assets necessary to satisfy a considerable judgment, but the establishments involved in dram shop claims will typically deny liability and aggressively fight to avoid having to pay anything to victims.
Seattle Drunk Driving/DUI Statistics
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission reported that there were 278 impaired driver involved fatalities in 2016. This was the sixth straight increase, after 258 deaths in 2015, 230 deaths in 2014, 229 deaths in 2013, 216 fatalities in 2014, and 215 fatalities in 2012.
According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, 50 percent of all roadway fatalities are due to impaired driving. An average of 149 people are killed every summer (July-September) in Washington.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission reported that driver impairment due to alcohol and drugs was the number one contributing factor in fatal crashes in Washington, and poly-drug drivers (combinations of alcohol and drugs or multiple drugs) were the most common type of impairment among drivers in fatal accidents. Among drivers involved in fatal crashes between 2008 and 2016, 61 percent tested positive for alcohol or drugs, and 44 percent tested positive for two or more substances (poly-drug drivers) with the most common substance being alcohol, followed by THC.
According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, 84.3 percent of drivers who tested positive for cannabinoids in 2014 were positive for THC. Almost half (38) of the 75 drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 positive for THC.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that the 178 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in Washington in 2017 were 32 percent of the 565 total deaths. This was 18 more than the 160 such fatalities reported in 2016 and represented an 11.3 percent increase in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1,921 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver in Washington between 2003 and 2012. Washington had lower rates of death by age (per 100,000 population) than the national averages in 2012 for people between 21 years of age and 34 years of age (4.0 in Washington compared to 6.7 nationally), people 35 years of age or older (2.0 in Washington compared to 3.1 nationally), and all ages (2.1 in Washington compared to 3.3 nationally).
Washington also had lower rates of death by gender, with females having a rate of 0.7 in Washington compared to 1.5 nationally and males having a rate of 3.6 in Washington compared to 5.2 nationally. Washington did, however, have a higher percentage of adults who reported driving after drinking too much with 2.1 percent compared to the national average of 1.9 percent.
Contact a Seattle Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Today
Did you sustain catastrophic injuries or was your loved one killed in a drunk driver crash in Seattle or a surrounding area of Washington? It is essential for you not to delay and contact The Law Offices of Jeffrey R. Caffee right away to discuss your rights and legal options.
Our firm will conduct an independent investigation to preserve all of the evidence relating to your case and then work to hold the negligent party accountable. Call (206) 312-0954 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.