At The Bishop Law Firm, we have seen the very real harm caused by NC drunk drivers far too often. Victims sustain life altering injuries that can result in permanent disability and even death. NC was/is, unfortunately, one of the top ten worst states in the U.S. for drunk driving as of 2018. The irony is, of course, that a drunk driving accident is 100% preventable.

If you see a drunk driver on the road, please stay away from them and call 911! Do not endanger your life by trying to get their attention. Please offer someone a ride when you know they have been drinking and always remember that a cab/ride/walk/bus costs much less than the alternative.

According to WECT, NC had 27, 915 DUI arrests; 421 drunk driving fatalities; and a death rate of 4.05 per 100,000 people in 2018.  Also, the South is the deadliest region for drunk driving in the United States. Drunk drivers tailgate; quickly accelerate or decelerate; weave; drift in and out of traffic lanes; and have a slower response to traffic conditions according to MADD. Needless to say these actions can and do result in car accidents with injuries and fatalities.

In addition to facing civil claims from their injured victims after a drunk driving crash, a DWI offender may have to face license suspension and criminal charges under North Carolina DWI laws which can result in jail time. 

If you are injured in a car accident that was caused by a drunk driver, you can approach financial recovery through a NC personal injury claim and under certain circumstances you can pursue punitive damages. If you were injured by a drunk driver while driving for your employer, you can also have a NC workers’ compensation case. If your injuries have caused a disability that will keep you out of work for a year or more, you can pursue a Social Security Disability Case.

NC Personal Injury Claims

In NC, if you were injured by the drunk driver through no fault of your own (contributory negligence), you may be able to recover your medical expenses, lost wages and pain & suffering. In addition, if the action of the at-fault party rises to the level of “willful or wanton conduct” as discussed in Chapter 1D, you may also be entitled to punitive damages. In NC, there is a $250,000 cap on punitive damages but this cap does not apply to injuries sustained when the defendant was impaired while driving:

§ 1D-26. Driving while impaired; exemption from cap. G.S. 1D-25(b) shall not apply to a claim for punitive damages for injury or harm arising from a defendant’s operation of a motor vehicle if the actions of the defendant in operating the motor vehicle would give rise to an offense of driving while impaired under G.S. 20-138.1, 20-138.2, or 20-138.5. (1995, c. 514).

If your loved one was killed during the car accident, your family may have a NC Wrongful Death case.

NC Workers’ Compensation Claims

In addition, if you are injured at work while driving or injured as a pedestrian while working by a drunk driver, you may have a NC Workers’ Compensation case. NC Workers’ Compensation provides medical compensation and wage loss benefits for non-fatal injuries and death benefits for fatal injuries. Also read: What does NC Worker’s Compensation pay for?

In order to have an actionable NC Worker’s compensation case, you must be an employee who is injured while completing your job duties (not on the way to work or on the way home). On the flip side, if you are the inebriated party and injure yourself while working, you would be unable to receive NC Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Social Security Disability Claims

Injuries from car and pedestrians accidents can result in severe long term disabilities. If your impairments are going to keep you from working for a year or more, filing a claim for Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be the right step for you. Applying for and receiving Social Security Disability can be a difficult process. You should apply as soon as possible because delay may cause you to lose benefits. Also read: Who should apply for Social Security Disability?

Drunk drivers endanger our community in many ways and the damage that they can cause has far reaching consequences. Please drink responsibly and when in doubt, catch a ride! The Bishop Law Firm represents disabled and injured clients in Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Fayetteville, Smithfield, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Chapel Hill, Roanoke Rapids, Louisburg and other areas in North Carolina. Call us today for a free case review, (919) 615-3095.