The results of an online survey conducted last year suggested that Montana had some of the worst drivers in the United States. An earlier blog post discussed that survey in detail. Among the various factors that contributed to Montana's disappointing ranking were the numbers of injuries and fatalities that were caused by drunk drivers. The exact figures would surely shock many Montana residents.
According to the Montana Department of Transportation, 10 percent of all accidents in the state are the result of drunk driving. Furthermore, the MDT states that approximately 20 percent of all traffic-related injuries and 50 percent of all traffic-related fatalities are caused by drunk driving. It is for these reasons that Montana laws impose strict penalties on people who are convicted of drunk driving. For those who are found to be responsible for causing a drunk driving accident, the penalties are even harsher. A person found to have injured another person in a drunk driving may face up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $50,000.
These penalties are important ways to discourage drunk driving and to render justice for those who hurt other people. Still, they don't necessarily help the injured or their families in a concrete way. In addition to pain and suffering, the injured may face enormous medical expenses, long periods in which they are unable to work or perhaps even permanent disability.
When someone is injured due to another party's negligence -- as when someone is injured by a drunk driver -- Montana law provides that the injured may be compensated for these and other damages through a personal injury lawsuit. Attorneys with experience in this type of case can help the injured and their families to understand how the law may help them.