Randall “Randy” Sevenish served first as a deputy sheriff, then as a Captain and SWAT Team Commander with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department for many years. He saw firsthand the terrible aftermath of drunk driving accidents. In large part, and because of his vast law enforcement experience, when he became an Indianapolis personal injury attorney in 1985, he dedicated himself to taking care of the victims and families whose lives have been changed forever by the senseless, selfish acts of drunk drivers.
If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in a car crash caused by a drunk driver, the Sevenish Law Firm wants to help. We take these cases personally. We will aggressively seek compensation for you and pursue the justice you and your family deserve. Contact us today to set up a free consultation. We serve clients in Indianapolis and throughout the state of Indiana.
Holding Drunk Drivers Accountable in Indiana
A personal injury or wrongful death claim may be asserted when a driver’s negligent or reckless acts cause harm to another. There may be no more reckless act than driving while impaired by alcohol or while under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs.
A person’s liability for a drunk driving accident can be established in Indiana through a principle known as “negligence per se.” This means that the very fact that a person has broken a law such as Indiana’s operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) statute could arguably establish his or her fault in a crash.
In Indiana, OWI can be established through proof that a driver operated a vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher or otherwise drove while his or her “mental and physical faculties” were impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. In this sense, the driver’s conviction for OWI (whether through a guilty plea or by way of a jury verdict) can establish the driver’s liability for any physical, emotional, or financial harm the driver has caused you or your family in an accident.
At Sevenish Law Firm, we do not need the driver’s OWI conviction to establish a case for compensation based on the negligence of a drunk driver. We can also seek evidence that includes:
- Police accident reports
- Breath or blood test results
- Receipts showing alcohol purchases
- Eyewitness testimony indicating that the driver smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech and glassy eyes and wove across lanes, crossed the center line, ran a red light, or engaged in other dangerous driving behavior.
Social media evidence or text messages may also establish that a driver had been out drinking before getting behind the wheel and causing a car accident.
With his law enforcement background, Randy Sevenish brings a unique perspective and set of investigative skills to these accidents. He knows and understands the important details that go into establishing a solid case.
In some cases, a drunk driver may have a record of OWI offenses. This information may play a role in establishing a claim for punitive damages. These damages can be awarded in addition to medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering damages. They are aimed at punishing reckless individuals such as drunk drivers and deterring them from future misconduct.
Although Sevenish Law Firm clearly never condones or justifies drunk or impaired drivers, including our own clients, we do come across clients injured at the fault of some else—whether a drunk driver or not—while they themselves were either drunk or impaired at the time. Even though an impaired client was injured, it could be demonstrated in some cases that the at-fault driver would still have the majority of liability since the impaired and injured person’s condition was not the “cause” of the crash.
It’s extraordinarily important if you’re seeking damages for your injuries sustained in a crash of any type to absolutely never talk to the wrongdoer’s insurance company adjuster or even your own company’s adjuster or give a verbal statement, recorded or not, without first discussing the events with an experienced injury lawyer. If you do speak without first consulting with an attorney, you jeopardize your accident case for money damages and could incriminate yourself, which could lead to criminal ramifications, including penalties and jail.
Who Is Legally Accountable in an Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver?
A drunk driver is responsible for his or her actions, but in some cases, other parties may also be held liable if a drunk driver is involved in an accident and injures or kills another person. The Indiana dram shop liability law allows victims to hold a host liable for an injury or fatal accident under specific circumstances.
A “dram shop” could be a restaurant, bar, tavern, or other similar place in which alcohol is served to patrons. Dram shop owners and managers are restricted from serving alcohol to customers who are visibly intoxicated or to underage patrons.
Holding Employees, Bars, Restaurants, and Social Hosts Accountable
The driver is not the only party who could be held accountable after a drunk driving accident has left you with injuries or cost your loved one’s life. Depending on the facts, others could be liable such as:
- The driver’s employer. If the drunk driver was “on the clock” at the time of the crash, the employer could be sued for damages. A trucking company, for instance, could be liable if one of its drivers causes a wreck while making a delivery.
- Bar, restaurant, or store. Any person who knowingly furnishes alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person or a minor (under the legal drinking age of 21) can be liable if that person, in turn, causes a crash that injures or kills others. This is known as Indiana’s “dram shop” law.
- Social hosts. The dram shop law in Indiana also applies to “social hosts,” such as individuals who host parties where alcohol is served. As when suing a commercial seller of alcohol, it must be shown that the social host knew (or reasonably should have known) that the driver was intoxicated or a minor.
The Sevenish Law Firm will explore all avenues for compensation and seek the just amount in your case. We are passionate about pursuing justice for those whose lives have been turned upside down by a drunk driver.
Indiana: Statistics on Drunk Driving Accidents
Alcohol-impaired driving in 2013 killed 221 individuals in Indiana, which was 20.9 percent of those who died in traffic collisions in the state. DUI/OWI driving caused 14 percent of traffic fatalities.
Drunk driving caused incapacitating injuries to 2,388 people across Indiana in 2013. An incapacitating injury is any injury that leaves the victim unable to walk, drive, or function. This includes injuries such as:
- Severe lacerations
- Burn injuries
- Fractured limbs
- Brain injuries
- Internal injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Or the victim is left unconscious and requires transport by emergency medical personnel from the scene of the accident.
A non-incapacitating injury is an injury that is evident at the scene but not life-threatening, such as serious soft-tissue injuries, lacerations, and other similar injuries.
Contact an Indianapolis OWI Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed by a drunk driver, our firm stands ready to assist you to seek justice. There is limited time in which to seek justice in the courts under the Indiana statute of limitations. We urge you to connect with our Indianapolis car accident lawyers as soon as possible after the wreck. We will manage every detail of your case professionally, skillfully and with total commitment to you and your family.
We won’t charge attorney fees in your case unless we secure a verdict or settlement for you. From the beginning to the end, you can count on us to serve you with the integrity, honor, and discipline that you and your family deserve. Contact us online or call us today at 800-278-9200 to schedule your free consultation.