Chicago Car Accident Lawyer Says More Can Be Done to Reduce Drunk Driving

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Recently released statistics show that drunk-driving-related deaths are decreasing in Illinois, but more needs to be done to combat the problem of accidents, injuries and deaths caused by impaired drivers, says attorney Patrick A. Salvi of Chicago’s Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C.

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Chicago personal injury lawyer Patrick A. Salvi

We need to stay vigilant in passing laws that crack down on intoxicated drivers, in spreading awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving and in using better judgment when we get the behind the wheel.

Although recently announced Illinois Department of Transportation data shows a steady downward trend in the state’s drunk-driving fatalities, the number of alcohol-related tragedies on the state’s roads remains unacceptably high, said Chicago car accident lawyer Patrick A. Salvi.

“Just this morning, I read in the Chicago Tribune about a 13-year-old boy who was killed in a crash involving an off-duty officer who is alleged to have been impaired at the time of the accident,” Salvi said.

“To me, it’s a reminder that, despite the encouraging statistics released by the DOT, the risk of drunk-driving accidents remains unreasonably high. Reckless drunk drivers continue to inflict tragedy on too many Illinois residents and their families,” he said.

“We need to stay vigilant in passing laws that crack down on intoxicated drivers, in spreading awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving and in using better judgment when we get the behind the wheel.”

Salvi is the managing equity partner of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., a leading Chicago personal injury law firm. The firm’s personal injury lawyers have represented scores of car accident victims throughout Chicago and surrounding areas in Cook County and Lake County. Many of the firm’s cases have involved victims who were severely injured or killed by alcohol-impaired drivers.

The statistics released late last month by the Illinois DOT, however, indicate that alcohol-impaired motor vehicle fatalities are gradually declining across the state. According to the DOT, 298 impaired driving deaths occurred in 2010, marking a 33 percent reduction compared to 2006, when 446 people were killed in DUI accidents.

“Certainly, it’s good news that 148 fewer people have died in drunk-driving wrecks than five years ago,” Salvi said, “but the only acceptable number of DUI fatalities is zero.”

Although tough criminal penalties help to combat drunk driving, the civil justice system also plays a crucial role, the Chicago attorney said. Drunk drivers can be held accountable for their actions in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.

Although a lawsuit cannot undo a tragedy, it can help victims and their families pay for damages caused by an impaired driver, such as medical expenses, lost wages and the pain and suffering that has been endured, Salvi said.

Under Illinois law, an employer can be held liable for the harm caused by a drunk driver if the driver was an employee who was conducting company business at the time of the wreck, he added.

Also, under what’s commonly called the Illinois “Dram Shop Law,” an establishment that serves alcohol to an intoxicated customer can be sued for any injuries or deaths caused by that customer. In many drunk-driving cases, punitive damages are available. These damages are intended to punish and deter especially reckless conduct, Salvi said.

In many drunk-driving cases, punitive damages are available. These damages are intended to punish and deter especially reckless conduct, Salvi said.

“Our civil justice system in Illinois allows not only drunk drivers to be held responsible but also those who essentially enable the drivers to be on the road, exposing others to the risk of accidents, injuries and death,” he said.

“At our law firm, we will continue to be firmly dedicated to fighting drunk driving and protecting the rights and interests of those whose lives have been turned upside down by intoxicated drivers.”

About Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C.

Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard is a leading Illinois personal injury law firm with offices in Chicago and Waukegan. In addition to representing clients in catastrophic personal injury, medical malpractice, aviation and product liability cases, the firm focuses on car and truck accidents, airplane and train accidents, construction injuries, birth injuries, brain injuries, unsafe properties and animal attacks. The firm has obtained more than $620 million on behalf of its clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases, including 175 multimillion-dollar verdicts or settlements. For more information, call (312) 372-1227 or use the firm’s online contact form.

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