Drunk Driving Accidents in Kansas City
Accidents are often unavoidable. Dangerous road conditions or a defective car part can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle. Sometimes, those situations don’t occur because of someone’s error or intentional actions. However, drunk driving is a serious and deliberate action that can lead to a devastating accident. When a person is under the influence and decides to drive their vehicle, they knowingly endanger other people’s lives on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving kills around 32 people in the United States daily. In a single year, 11,654 people died in alcohol-related traffic accidents. These alarming statistics show the significant impact alcohol can have on someone’s faculties. Here, you can learn more about the consequences of drunk driving and how to hold someone liable for the injuries you sustained in an accident caused by a drunk driver.
Missouri Drunk Driving Laws
According to Missouri Revised Statutes 577.010, a person drives while intoxicated if they operate their vehicle in an intoxicated condition. An intoxicated condition means a person is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or drug, or any combination of these substances. Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher is considered “under the influence of alcohol. DWI laws are much stricter for underage people. Someone under 21 who operates a vehicle with a BAC of 0.02 percent can face a DWI charge.
Common Types of Accidents Caused by Drunk Driving
Alcohol significantly impairs a person’s mental and physical abilities. Poor judgment, inattention, and confusion can affect a driver’s faculties and lead to a collision. The most common types of drunk driving accidents include:
- Rear-end collisions – A rear-end accident often occurs when one driver tailgates another person’s car. Drunk motorists often can’t react quickly enough to brake for a vehicle that suddenly stops or slows down in front of them.
- T-bone accidents – A T-bone collision occurs when one car impacts the side of another. Following traffic signs and signals is challenging for an intoxicated driver. They might run a stop sign or fail to yield the right of way to another motorist and crash into the side of someone’s vehicle.
- Head-on collisions – A head-on crash is one of the deadliest types of traffic accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 7,566 people died in head-on accidents in one year. A drunk driver can drift into oncoming traffic without realizing a vehicle is approaching until it’s too late.
- Wrong-way accidents – Drunk motorists might drive in the wrong direction on the highway or a one-way road. They don’t recognize their error because alcohol limits their ability to notice dangerous situations or follow traffic signs.
Common Injuries in Drunk Driving Accidents
Car accident injuries can range from minor bruises and cuts to debilitating brain and spinal cord damage. Some people recover completely from fender benders and low-impact collisions. However, catastrophic accidents can lead to life-threatening or permanent injuries. The most common types of injuries that occur in drunk driving accidents include:
- Internal bleeding
- Concussions and other head injuries
- Psychological or emotional trauma
- Loss of limb or amputation injury
- Spinal cord injuries
- Permanent impairment or disability
- Broken bones
- Significant scarring or disfigurement
- Soft tissue injuries
Pursuing Compensation After a Drunk Driving Accident
State law requires every motor vehicle owner residing in Missouri to show proof of insurance while registering a vehicle and renewing a license plate. Auto insurance with liability coverage is mandatory for Missouri residents. The minimum liability limits drivers must carry under state law include:
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person
- $50,000 for bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 for property damage
You can file a liability claim or sue the drunk driver to hold them liable for your injury. The compensation you receive in a claim or lawsuit might cover your:
- Emotional distress
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Ambulance services, rehabilitation, prescriptions, and other medical costs
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Permanent impairment and disability
- Property damage
Punitive damages might also be recoverable in a civil lawsuit. You must show clear and convincing evidence that the defendant intentionally harmed you without just cause or acted with a flagrant and deliberate disregard for others’ safety.
Understanding Dram Shop Laws in Drunk Driving Accident Cases
Typically, the drunk driver is at fault for a car wreck. However, another party’s actions can contribute to the motorist’s level of intoxication. In Missouri, dram shop laws allow anyone who sustains an injury caused by a drunk driver to pursue action against a licensed person who sold that person liquor for consumption on their premises. You might be able to hold a bar or another establishment liable for serving a driver who subsequently drove their car and caused the collision. However, you must provide clear and convincing evidence that the seller knowingly served intoxicating liquor to a visibly intoxicated customer or knew or should have known they served it to a patron under 21 years old.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Missouri
You can file a wrongful death lawsuit if a drunk driver causes your immediate family member’s death in an accident. The individuals permitted to pursue a wrongful death action in order of succession include:
- Children’s descendants if the children are deceased
- A sibling or their descendants
The financial recovery might include money for the surviving family or estate’s losses, such as:
- Medical bills related to the fatal injury
- Pain and suffering the deceased experienced between the date of the accident and their death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- The reasonable value of companionship, instruction, services, training, consortium, counsel, guidance, and comfort the deceased would have provided to their family
- The value of benefits and wages the deceased could have earned if they survived
Statute of Limitations for Injuries in a Drunk Driving Accident
In Missouri, the statute of limitations allows a five-year timeframe to file a lawsuit against another party who injured you. That means you have five years from the crash date to sue the intoxicated driver for compensation. The statute of limitations for wrongful death allows a three-year timeframe for an eligible surviving relative to initiate their lawsuit. That means you must file suit against the drunk driver within three years of your family member’s death.
Seek Justice After a Drunk Driving Accident
Since 1996, The McCallister Law Firm has fought for injured clients in Missouri. We can help you pursue a case against the negligent motorist and fight for the compensation you deserve. If you were injured in a car crash due to a drunk driver’s actions, call 816-839-4380 or contact us online for a free case evaluation with an experienced Kansas City drunk driving accident lawyer.