Wilmington Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer


Pella Windows Class Action Case

$25.7 Million

We have recovered a $25.7 million settlement on behalf of our client on a Pella windows class action case.

Chinese Drywall Settlement Case

$24 Million

We have recovered $24 million on the largest individual Chinese drywall settlement case.

Marriott Vacation Club Class Action

$13.3 Million

We have recovered a $13.3 million settlement for Deceptive Trade Practices at Marriott Vacation Club.

DWI Accident Lawyers for Victims of Drunk Driving

Highway Patrol cars at the scene of a car accident.Under North Carolina law, people injured in motor vehicle accidents caused by drunk or drugged drivers have the right to sue for damages related to their medical bills, lost earnings, and more. In some cases, suing a drunk driver may be the only way to recover compensation for your vehicle repairs, medical bills, and the unjust pain you endured because of the accident.

If you were in an accident caused by someone else’s consumption of drugs or alcohol, you deserve justice for the emotional and physical impact on your life. The car accident lawyers at Rhine Law Firm, P.C. believe victims are entitled to compensation and will work tirelessly toward that end. Let us work on the legal details while you focus on getting well and getting your life back in order.

If you have been injured in a car accident, we invite you to contact Rhine Law Firm, P.C., by calling (910) 772-9960 for a free initial consultation with one of our car accident attorneys regarding your legal needs.

North Carolina Drunk Driving Statistics

The death toll for drunk drivers in North Carolina is on the rise. ABC11 news in Raleigh reported that drunk drivers have taken the lives of 432 persons. In fact, alcohol played a role in 22% of fatal traffic accidents in 2021, according to data from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). The prevalence of drunk driving compelled law enforcement to launch several campaigns to stop impaired drivers before they harm others.

In 2021, NCDOT began its “Booze it & Lose it” campaign, leading to more than 1,900 drivers facing DWI charges. It is the largest campaign run by NC Governor’s Highway Safety Program.

I Was Hit By A Drunk Driver: Now What?

When you’re hit by a drunk driver, there is no time to waste. You must:

  • Report the accident to law enforcement
  • Obtain information from the drunk driver
  • Take photos of the crash site, vehicle damage, and your visible injuries
  • Seek immediate medical care
  • Maintain records of injuries and medical treatment, as well as other expenses

If you are unable to take these steps due to your injuries, then you will gather the information as soon as you are able. There are many reasons to take swift action. Your immediate recall is better, access to witnesses is easier, and injuries are more visible. If the police don’t arrive on the scene, it’s important you call them while the other driver and any passengers are still on the scene. Even if you believe you have not been injured, you should still seek medical attention. With adrenaline flowing, it’s entirely possible not to feel any pain after the collision. It is just as likely that your injuries won’t appear until at least a day has passed. Check in with yourself in the aftermath of your accident, and if any new pain develops, make sure to see a doctor and document all medical attention received. Fairly to get documented care is one of the biggest obstacles to getting crash victims the compensation they deserve.

Finally, you should call an attorney as soon as possible. The stakes are high in cases where an intoxicated driver is the cause of an accident. It may be important to get an accident reconstructionist on the scene, for example. For those who live in or near New Hanover County, you are well-advised to contact an experienced car accident lawyer. When you need that advocate –– Rhine Law Firm, P.C. is there.

What If You Shared Some Blame for the Collision?

North Carolina’s “contributory negligence” standard means that if the at-fault driver can prove you shared some of the blame for the accident, he or she may not have to pay for damages. However, several exceptions to this rule apply when the at-fault driver’s conduct goes beyond ordinary negligence and instead is deemed “willful or wanton” negligence. An act is willful if the defendant intentionally fails to carry out some duty imposed by law or contract, which is necessary to protect the safety of the person or property to which it is owed. An act is wanton if the defendant acts in conscious and intentional disregard of and indifference to the rights and safety of others.

We adamantly argue in court that driving while drunk is a willful or wanton act! If the other driver was drunk or intoxicated, you should be able to avoid this antiquated defense and receive compensation, and possibly punitive damages. This is why we typically go ahead and sue drunk drivers.

What Constitutes “Drunk Driving” in North Carolina?

Drivers who have a blood-alcohol concentration of .08% or more are over the legal threshold for operating a motor vehicle. Over 30% of traffic fatalities in the U.S. are attributed to drivers under the influence. In North Carolina, there is only one charge for all drug and alcohol offenses: driving while intoxicated (DWI).

According to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1.5% of North Carolina drivers admitted to driving after drinking too much within the prior 30-day period. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report from December 2016 showed that in the year prior there were 1,379 roadway fatalities in NC, of which 411 involved DWI drivers – 30% of the total. For the same period, there were 258 instances where the driver’s BAC was .15% or over.

What Constitutes “Drugged Driving” in North Carolina?

Under North Carolina General Statute § 20-138.1, a person can be convicted of DWI if he or she operates a vehicle under the influence of an impairing substance. An impairing substance is defined as either alcohol or “…any drug or psychoanalytic substance capable of impairing a person’s physical or mental faculties or any combination of these substances.” This includes taking illegal drugs as well as medication that was legally prescribed by a medical professional, such as Valium or Ativan. In addition, over-the-counter medicine such as Nyquil and other cold remedies can impair a person’s ability to operate a vehicle and could lead to a DWI charge.

At the scene of the collision, be sure to contact the police so they can examine the at-fault driver for any signs of impairing substances. This proof will help immensely when you later file a claim against that driver and insurance company.

What Kind of Compensation is Available in a DWI accident?

Damage awards vary depending on a number of factors including liability issues, the severity of the injuries sustained, medical bills, and lost wages – as well as the amount of insurance available in the case. Pre-suit settlement offers from the intoxicated driver’s insurance company are often far less than the compensation you deserve. Having an attorney handle the negotiations almost always results a higher offer before having to file a lawsuit. Your attorney can also counsel you as to what a fair offer might look like in light of all the circumstances surrounding your case.

If negotiations fail and you file a lawsuit, the compensation you receive will be up to the jury, subject to the insured’s policy limits. Damage awards include the cost of past and future medical treatment, lost income and earning capacity, damage to your vehicle, and the more subjective value of “pain and suffering.” When the other driver is impaired, punitive damages may also be in play.

Who Can Be Liable for a Drunk Driving Accident?

Potentially liable persons during drunk driving accidents can include the following:

Drunk Drivers Themselves

Drunk drivers are primarily held responsible for accidents. Consumption of alcohol affects the central nervous system, hampering cognitive functionality and motor skills essential for safe driving.

In a legal context, drivers are expected to uphold a duty of care to other drivers. When a driver chooses to operate a vehicle while impaired by alcohol, they breach this duty and are liable if they cause a crash.

The Owner of the Vehicle Driven by the Drunk Driver

If a drunk driver borrowed the car from someone else, that person may also be liable.

The reasons that the owner could be held responsible include the following:

  • They knew that the driver had a drinking problem or a history of driving while impaired.
  • They knew the driver intended to drive to a bar and drink.
  • They were aware that the driver did not have insurance.
  • They were aware that the driver was not licensed to drive or had a suspended license.

The Person or Organization that Served the Drunk Driver

Restaurants and bars must obey state laws regarding alcohol consumption. For instance, it is illegal in North Carolina to serve alcohol to someone under 21 or to a noticeably intoxicated person. If they do, they can be held liable for the accident.

For example, in 2019, a drunk driver caused an accident that killed a Fort Bragg paratrooper. A bar in Fayetteville faced allegations of over-serving that drunk driver. To make matters worse, the driver had a minor with them at the time, and video surveillance reportedly showed the bar allowing the juvenile into the establishment.

Someone Who Impaired the Person Against Their Will

Sometimes, drivers do not know they are impaired when they get behind the wheel. For example, a woman might go to a bar with friends and order soda because she is the designated driver. However, a stranger slips a substance into her drink. It kicks when she drives her friends home and crashes.

She insists she did not drink anything and submits to a test. It reveals no alcohol but a “date rape drug,” such as flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), or gamma-butyrolactone (GBL). The restaurant could check their cameras and determine who spiked the drink. That person could become liable and may also face criminal charges.

How Are Drunk Driving Accident Claims Different from Criminal DWI Cases?

Criminal and civil courts try these cases separately. Criminal courts focus on whether the driver broke the law and impose a criminal penalty, such as jail time or fines. Civil courts focus on personal injury claims brought by victims against negligent drivers who drive drunk or their insurance companies, their family members or the insurance company of the owner of the car.. If the DUI driver dies in the accident, the victim may file a claim against the estate.

DUI drivers sometimes have excellent lawyers who successfully get them out of criminal charges. This could happen if police officers did not follow procedures or the person refused to submit to a breathalyzer and did not have other obvious signs of impairment

A criminal conviction may help your case, but you may still pursue civil claims without it. An experienced Wilmington personal injury attorney can review your case to help you determine how to move forward.

Investigating Drunk Driving Accidentslawyer explaining documents to his client

Rhine Law Firm, P.C. is proud of our long history serving Wilmington and surrounding areas. Led by Joel Rhine, we’ve built our reputation on not only our successful results, but on the professionalism, dedication, and honesty that we display.

If you were injured in a car accident caused by an individual driving under the influence, we want to do everything we can to win justice on your behalf. Along with our network of investigators and experts, we will thoroughly investigate the DWI accident and begin collecting evidence, including:

  • Crash report
  • Copies of your medical records
  • Video surveillance of the accident
  • Statements from eyewitnesses
  • At-fault driver’s alcohol test results
  • Documents from another DWI criminal case against the other driver
  • Pictures of the accident scene
  • Receipts proving the driver consumed alcohol before the crash

Drunk drivers take negligence on the road to another level, and we believe those drivers should pay for their actions. Schedule a free consultation today.

Additional Information

What Is It Like to Work With Us?

Working with our firm means your needs will be met and your questions answered by someone who knows your name and the details of your case – every time you call. Contact Rhine Law Firm, P.C., at (910) 772-9960 for a free initial consultation. Evening and weekend appointments upon request. Office hours 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Evening and weekend appointments also available. We also offer Spanish interpretation and translation services.

During a free consultation, we will look at the important aspects of your case, answer your questions, and explain your legal rights and options clearly. Our attorneys also remain available to our clients via phone, email and other means, ultimately focused on doing what is truly in their best interests.

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