Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs accounts for nearly a quarter of Nova Scotia’s fatal motor vehicle accidents. Every day, someone’s poor decision to operate a vehicle while inebriated ends in family members losing a loved one, and causes unsuspecting road-users to sustain life-altering injuries. Hundreds of fatalities and tens of thousands of injuries each year are the result of an impaired driver’s disregard for safety and the rule of law. In fact, every day, on average, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs takes the lives of four Canadians.
When drivers get behind the wheel after they have been drinking or using recreational drugs, they may be slow to respond to changing road conditions or quick to overcompensate mistakes. They may experience blurred vision, loss of judgment, and even loss of consciousness behind the wheel as the result of their inebriation, creating extremely unsafe conditions for themselves and other road users.
Impaired driving is 100% preventable, and yet in 2020 alone, Nova Scotia RCMP charged 1,625 people with offences related to inebriation on the road. If convicted, offenders caught operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level higher than 0.8 will face serious repercussions including:
- A criminal record
- Loss of driver’s license for at least one year
- A minimum fine of $1,000
- License reinstatement fees
- Completion of a mandatory addictions program
- And possibly more
Although the province mandates a legal blood alcohol limit for those operating a vehicle with a full-grade driver’s license, the amount of alcohol it takes to cause impairment varies greatly from person to person. Some people may even experience the effects of inebriation after consuming only one alcoholic beverage. That is why the only way to truly ensure your personal safety, and the safety of everyone else on the road, is to drive sober.
If you are planning on drinking outside of your home, it is important to also plan a way of getting back without causing yourself or others any harm. Using designated drivers, public transit, taxis or ride-share vehicles, as well as spending the night at a friend’s house could help save lives, and prevent severe injuries caused by driving under the influence.
If someone gets behind the wheel while impaired by alcohol or drugs, they could very easily cause a serious collision with another driver. Sustaining a severe injury in a car accident could lead to an individual’s inability to return to the workplace. This could result in significant financial hardships, in addition the difficulties of coping with a diminished quality of life. Furthermore, car accidents resulting in wrongful deaths could have lasting impacts on a victim’s family, both emotionally and financially.
If another driver’s negligence resulted in serious injury or loss of life, a Nova Scotia car accident lawyer may be able to help you pursue accountability and financial restitution.
Myths About Drinking and Driving
Despite educational initiatives to warn even the most experienced drivers about the dangers of drinking and driving, on average, 22 Nova Scotians are killed each year as the result of alcohol-related collisions. These collisions are entirely preventable, and yet they continue taking the lives of innocent, law-abiding drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, passengers, and other road users.
Dispelling several myths about drinking and driving may help people reevaluate negligent behaviours, and prevent future tragedies. Some commonly held false assumptions about drinking and driving include:
- Refraining from drinking hard liquor and only drinking beer will prevent alcohol-related collisions. This statement is false. Regardless of what kind of alcohol a person drinks, their judgment and motor skills will become impaired through its consumption.
- People with a high tolerance for alcohol can drink more without feeling the effects of impairment. This notion is also false. Even one drink can impair a person’s ability to drive. Even people below the legal blood alcohol limit can be too inebriated to safely operate a vehicle.
- Drinking black coffee after drinking alcohol can help a person sober up faster. This is not true. Neither coffee, nor a cold shower, nor any other “cure” will rapidly restore a drunk person’s sobriety. It takes time for alcohol to leave a person’s system; there is no quick-fix for inebriation.
- It’s possible to drive short distances while inebriated without causing a collision, or being stopped by law enforcement. This statement is also false. Collisions caused by drunk driving can occur anywhere, and provincial law enforcement regularly patrols Nova Scotia’s roads, purposefully targeting impaired drivers through the use of checkpoints and other measures.
Common Injuries From Impaired Driving Accidents
Accidents caused by impaired driving can have fatal consequences. They can also result in severe, even catastrophic injuries. Some common injuries resulting from drunk driving accidents include:
- Soft tissue injuries
- Broken and fractured bones
- Internal organ damage
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injuries
- And more
In addition to the physical and emotional difficulties an injured victim of a drunk driving accident may endure, expensive costs of medical treatment combined with an inability to return to the workforce could result in prolonged periods of financial instability. An accident victim’s life, and their livelihood, could be seriously impacted, all because another person chose to get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol.
Pursuing Damages for Injuries Sustained in Motor Vehicle Accidents
If you have been injured in a car accident, it can be difficult to know which actions to take next, or where to turn for accountability.
Injured Nova Scotians may be able to pursue claims for costs and expenses associated with treatment, rehabilitation, and occupational retraining, as well as limited wage replacement benefits stemming from their injuries through no-fault Section B accident benefits. These accident benefits typically cover the costs for eligible treatment and related rehabilitation expenses up to a maximum of $50,000 for four years following the accident.
According to Nova Scotia’s Insurance Act, all motor vehicle operators in the province have a legal obligation to provide a reasonable duty of care to other road-users. This means that drivers must practice safe driving habits and reasonable caution on the road at all times. When people violate traffic laws, such as driving under the influence of alcohol, they fail to provide a reasonable duty of care to their fellow road-users. Doing so could be considered driver negligence.
If your collision was caused by the negligence of another driver, a Nova Scotia car accident lawyer may be able to help you recover both economic and non-economic damages for losses you incurred as a result of your injuries.
Economic damages refer to the quantifiable costs an accident victim may be forced to pay as a result of their injuries. If these damages exceed the amount of Section B benefits available to them, a lawyer may be able to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver to recover outstanding costs. Some examples of economic damages may include:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Ongoing medical care/in-home care
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Adjusted living expenses
- And possibly more
Non-economic damages may be more difficult to quantify or calculate than economic damages, but often the emotional cost of these damages can have an even greater impact on an accident victim’s quality of life than the monetary losses they’ve incurred.
When impaired driving leads to catastrophic, permanent injuries, accident victims may suffer, emotional repercussions. In coping with these physical injuries, accident victims often develop additional disabilities, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and others. In these cases, a Nova Scotia lawyer may be able to help catastrophically injured accident survivors pursue non-economic damages. Examples of these damages might include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- And possibly more
Contact Preszler Injury Lawyers if You’ve Been Injured by a Drunk Driver
If you were injured in a motor vehicle collision caused by a drunk driver, you may be eligible to recover financial compensation for damages you incurred. To discuss the circumstances of the accident and learn if you’re eligible to pursue damages, contact us today.
For a free, initial consultation, call Preszler Injury Lawyers at 902-405-8282.