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Cleveland Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys

Providing Injured Clients with Aggressive Legal Representation

The Ohio State Highway Patrol (OHSP) reports that there were 39,951 alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents in the state between 2019 and 2021. Unfortunately, these crashes accounted for as much as 54% of all motor vehicle-related fatalities in Ohio during that period. Operating a vehicle impaired (OVI) is against the law in the Buckeye State, as it is a leading cause of traffic fatalities and serious injuries every year.

If you were hurt in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your injuries and losses. The legal team at HMW Law is here to help you hold the at fault driver liable for their actions and to protect your rights to fair compensation as a victim. Contact us at 216-369-1352 and request a free consultation to discuss your case.

What is Considered Drunk Driving in Ohio?

In Ohio, a drunk driving offense is called an OVI or Operating a Vehicle Intoxicated, and it is equivalent to a DUI (Driving under the influence) offense in other states. A driver can be accused of an OVI per se if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher, regardless of whether they are showing obvious signs of impairment or not.

A person can also be charged with an OVI for drug use or for driving under the influence of a controlled substance, including prescription medications that impair a person’s ability to drive safely. For example, someone who has 20 nanograms of marijuana per urine milliliter may be facing OVI charges in Ohio, even if they do not appear to be driving impaired. Penalties for OVIs in Ohio are severe and become progressively harsher for repeat offenders. Those convicted of an OVI may face jail time, expensive fines, and a license suspension.

What Happens if the Drunk Driver is Facing Criminal Charges?

In many cases, the reckless driver responsible for causing an OVI accident may already be facing criminal charges in an Ohio criminal court. While that is the state’s way of getting justice and punishing the drunk driver for their actions, it rarely results in any type of restitution to the victim, who is often left to fend for themselves financially after their accident.

This is why getting legal help from an experienced drunk driving accident attorney is so important, as the victim’s right to file a civil case against the drunk driver is not affected by the fact that the drunk driver is facing criminal charges. However, it is up to the victim to initiate the case and present sufficient evidence documenting their damages and linking the at-fault driver’s negligence as the main cause of their accident and injuries.

A lawsuit may be necessary if the driver was underinsured or uninsured or when their insurance company is acting in bad faith and denying your claim or offering a low settlement amount. Your attorney can advise you on whether you should file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy or seek compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit in court.

What Do You Need to Prove in a Drunk Driving Accident Case in Ohio?

In Ohio, victims injured in drunk driving accident cases may be able to seek compensation through the at-fault driver’s insurance company or, in some instances, through a lawsuit in civil court. In both situations, the claimant should be prepared to prove that their injuries were caused by the drunk driver’s negligent actions. In other words, to succeed in a drunk driving accident claim in Ohio, you must prove the following four elements:

  • Establish the duty of care: Show that the driver had a legal duty to operate their vehicle responsibly and safely, which includes obeying traffic laws and not driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Prove breach of duty: Demonstrate that the driver breached their duty of care by driving while intoxicated. This can be done through evidence such as police reports indicating the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or testimony from witnesses who observed signs of impairment.
  • Show causation: Establish a link between the driver’s intoxication and the accident. This may involve presenting evidence that the driver’s impairment directly caused the accident or contributed to its severity.
  • Prove damages: Provide evidence of the damages you suffered as a result of the accident. This can include medical bills, property damage receipts, lost wages, and any other relevant documentation.

Proving negligence requires collecting all available evidence related to the accident, as the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff (the victim). In other words, it is up to the victim to prove their side of the story by using evidence such as police reports, witness statements, photographs or videos of the accident scene, medical records, and any other relevant documents. This is why it is strongly recommended to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can guide you through the legal process, help you gather evidence, and build a strong case.

When Can You Recover Damages in a Drunk Driving Accident Case?

In Ohio, you can recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit if you suffered an injury due to another person or company’s negligence, carelessness, or recklessness. You may be eligible to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. The specific amount of compensation you can recover will depend on the severity of your injuries, the circumstances of the accident, and the at-fault party’s level of negligence.

Typically, your final settlement amount is a combination of both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are the financial losses and expenses resulting from the accident. These losses are usually fairly easy to document through receipts, financial statements, bills, and pay stubs. Common examples of economic damages include medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning ability, and the cost of repairing or replacing damaged property (such as a vehicle). In contrast, non-economic damages are meant to address the more subjective, intangible losses suffered by an accident victim. Examples of non-economic damages include pain, suffering, trauma, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

In rare cases, the court may also order the defendant to pay punitive damages. This is possible in cases where the defendant acted with gross negligence and showed extreme indifference to the safety of others. Punitive damages are a civil court’s way of punishing a defendant and discouraging similar behavior from reoccurring in the future. Punitive damages may be awarded in addition to standard damages and may not be available for every case. Consult your attorney to determine the type and amount of damages you may be eligible to receive.

How Do Ohio Dram Shop Laws Work?

Dram shop laws are statutes that impose liability on establishments, such as bars, restaurants, and liquor stores, that serve alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals or minors who subsequently cause harm to others. These laws vary from state to state, including Ohio.

In Ohio, the dram shop law is outlined in Ohio Revised Code Section 4399.18. Under this law, establishments can be held liable for damages if they serve alcohol to someone who is “apparently intoxicated” and that intoxication contributes to the individual’s actions, causing injury or death to another person. To establish liability under Ohio’s dram shop law, the injured party must prove the following elements:

  • The establishment knowingly served alcohol to a person who was apparently intoxicated.
  • The person’s intoxication was a proximate cause of the injury or death.
  • The injured party suffered damages as a result.

It’s important to note that Ohio law limits the liability of establishments to cases involving injuries or death caused by the intoxicated person. Damages for property damage or other losses are generally not covered under dram shop laws. Ask your attorney about whether your case may qualify for additional damages under Ohio’s dram shop laws.

Why Should I Hire a Cleveland Drunk Driving Accident Attorney?

When you or your loved one is injured in a drunk driving accident, it can be a very difficult time. You may be dealing with serious injuries, mounting medical bills, and the emotional stress of knowing that another person’s irresponsible and dangerous behavior caused the accident, and you may not even know where to turn for help or the steps you need to take to get justice and secure payment for all of your losses and damages. We know how difficult it can be to go through such a situation alone.

When you are dealing with the aftermath of a drunk driving accident, you shouldn’t have to worry about the legal aspects of your case. At HMW Law, we can help you pursue compensation for all of the damages you have suffered. We can handle all aspects of your case so you can focus on getting the medical treatment you need to heal. Our skilled drunk driving accident lawyers are here to help you through this difficult time and to fight for the compensation you deserve.

Our team of Cleveland drunk driving accident attorneys can provide you with the legal guidance you need to move forward. We know that the negligent party should be held accountable for their actions, which is why we are dedicated to helping you recover the maximum amount of compensation available to you under the law.

We have the knowledge and resources to effectively represent you in your case. Our experienced attorneys are known for their commitment to excellence and for their ability to effectively communicate and advocate for their clients. We have represented countless drunk driving car accident victims in Cleveland and across the state of Ohio, and our firm is known for our strong track record of success. We are ready to fight for you when you need us the most. Contact us today at (216) 220-6776 to schedule a free consultation.