Most of us look forward to the winter holiday season with time off from work and school. Office parties, family gatherings, dinner and drinks with friends and colleagues are commonplace. Bars and restaurants may have specials such as extended happy hours or no-cover charges for women on some nights. Many of these events, however, center around drinking, which can increase the risk of drunk driving and car accidents.

The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is a busy time with more motorists on the road than at most any other time of the year. More cars on the road often means more opportunity for accidents but the risk is substantially heightened in the winter months because of drinking, icy roads, snow and sleet. According to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 40% of all accidents in the short period from Christmas to New Year’s involve alcohol.

Holidays also bring out a combination of persons who rarely drink and have a low tolerance for alcohol, and those who drink more often. People who seldom drink often save it for the holidays and then get on the road, thinking they can safely drive. Those with drinking problems tend to drink more since others are also drinking. And when the roads are icy or slick or it is sleeting or snowing outside, your chances of getting into an accident are heightened significantly.

Winter is also a time when rates of depression increase due to a phenomenon called “seasonal affective disorder.” Less sunlight and cold weather are factors influencing this condition. For those who have few friends or family nearby, seeing others enjoying the holidays can be extremely depressing and lead to increased use of alcohol and/or drugs.

While alcohol may be a culprit in many winter car accidents, drugged driving is just as pernicious. A report from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association found that 44% of driver deaths in 2016 were due to drugs, a substantial increase from 28% in 2006. Much of the increase can be blamed on the legalization of recreational use as well as medical use of marijuana in a number of states, including Massachusetts, as well as the opioid epidemic that has plagued our state and others over the past few years.

Avoid Drinking and Minimize Winter Driving  

You can avoid getting into an accident or causing one yourself during the winter months by limiting your drinking and not driving in poor weather and road conditions. Plan ahead if you will be drinking away from home by having someone drive you home or install a taxi, Lyft or Uber app on your smartphone and have one of these services take you to and from wherever you plan to have drinks.

If it will be snowing or sleeting, avoid driving at all if possible. If available, take a bus or other public transportation if you do have to be somewhere. Many accidents, especially from drunk drivers, occur at night so minimize driving at night during the winter months when poor road conditions combined with drunk or drugged drivers can increase your risk of being in an accident. If you are driving, then leave earlier to get to your destination and drive more slowly. If you see a motorist who is weaving or driving recklessly, do not hesitate to call 911 and report it.

Also, should you find yourself depressed and drinking to compensate for it, here are some suggestions to help you cope:

  1. Engage in more activities. Go to your gym more often. Exercising can have a positive effect on your general outlook. Ice skating, skiing, sledding, or other outdoor activities can also greatly promote positive energy.
  2. Expose yourself to more light. Go for a walk in the daytime or get more lamps in your home that can help dissipate any gloom you are experiencing.
  3. Get together with friends and family for dinner, movies, sporting or concert events.
  4. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
  5. Maintain a healthy diet by avoiding comfort foods like burgers and fries You will feel much better about yourself that will translate into less depression.

Damages in Drunk Driving Accidents

If you were injured in a car accident caused by the negligent driving of another motorist, then you may have a claim for compensation. You can receive PIP benefits regardless of fault for up to $8,000 for medical expenses and wage losses.

For serious injuries, you can ask for additional compensation from the responsible party’s auto liability carrier for:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future wage loss
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Permanent disability or disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Spousal claim for loss of consortium

Punitive damages in an injury accident because the liable motorist was driving impaired are not available, regardless of the egregiousness of his or her conduct, and are only allowed in wrongful death claims. These claims are brought by the administrator for the decedent’s estate on behalf of the decedent’s immediate family members only. Damages in a wrongful death claim may include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical expenses incurred before death, if any
  • Lost income during the decedent’s working lifetime
  • Pain and suffering if the decedent was observed to have visibly and consciously suffered before succumbing
  • Loss of the decedent’s love, counsel, guidance and companionship
  • Punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct was grossly negligent or exhibited willful indifference to the decedent’s safety

Punitive damages, if awarded, must come from the defendant’s personal assets as they are not covered by insurance.

Even in cases of clear liability, you will need an experienced Boston car accident lawyer to investigate your claim for possible additional defendants. Also, you have to provide credible evidence for all claimed damages, an aspect of your claim that requires a Boston car accident lawyer to handle so that you can be compensated to the fullest extent possible.

Retain Lovenberg & Associates

The winter months can be the cruelest when it comes to driving and car accidents. If you or a loved one was injured in an accident involving an impaired driver, contact a Boston car accident lawyer from Lovenberg & Associates to handle your injury claim from the outset. Call us today at (617) 973-9950 for an in-depth consultation about your injury claim.