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Fewer drunk driving deaths small consolation to victims, families

Federal officials recently released fatal traffic accident data for 2014. The good news is that Connecticut saw a decline in the number of deaths related to drunk driving in that year. The bad news is that the state ranks among the top five in the nation percentage-wise in the number of deaths due to alcohol-impaired drivers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 248 traffic deaths in 2014. Of them, 97 involved drivers who had blood alcohol content levels of at least 0.08 percent, the level at which a person is considered legally impaired. That translates to rate of 39 percent, compared with a national average of 31 percent.

We all know that car accidents can and do happen every day. That there are fewer that result in deaths occurring is good news. But those who work in the area of personal injury law know that such news does little to ease the pain, suffering of the victims who are injured, or the families who grieve the untimely loss of a loved one.

The awarding of monetary compensation to cover medical and funeral expenses, make up for lost wages and pain can never be considered sufficient. But it may be the most tangible recognition society is able to offer to those who suffer injury or loss due to someone else's negligence or recklessness. In addition, depending on the circumstances of a given case, a successful claim might be made for exacting punitive damages against a liable driver. And perhaps that will prevent a future accident.

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