In April 2022, the Tennessee state legislature passed a new bill that makes drunk drivers pay child support if they get into a car accident that kills a parent. The bill is not yet law, but it has passed in both the House and the Senate unanimously. Now, it only requires the governor’s signature to become official.
Commonly Asked Questions About the New Tennessee Drunk Driving Bill
This type of law isn’t unheard of. Several states are considering implementing similar measures to hold drunk drivers accountable for their actions. Right now, as Georgia considers passing a similar law, some constituents ask:
What’s the Purpose of This New Bill?
The law’s purpose is self-explanatory:
- It’s designed to ease a family’s financial burdens after losing a loved one.
- It discourages people from drunk driving.
- It ensures a child’s quality of life after losing a parent.
At this time, the law is not official; it’s currently awaiting the governor’s signature. Only time will tell whether the law meets the goals listed above.
How Much Child Support Do Drunk Drivers Have To Pay?
According to ABC News 4, the amount of child support the drunk driver has to pay depends on the court system. When determining how much child support a negligent driver should pay, the court will consider:
- The child’s age
- The financial situation of whoever will now care for the child
- The drunk driver’s financial situation
- Whether the child has any disabilities or special healthcare needs
Child support payments would continue until the child is 18 years old.
What if the Drunk Driver Goes to Jail?
Drunk driving is a serious crime in Tennessee, as it is in most other states. If convicted, a first-time drunk driver could spend up to a year behind bars, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security. If they are convicted of vehicular homicide (or if they have multiple DUIs), the sentence could be much longer.
Tennessee’s new law allows convicted drunk drivers to serve out their sentences before they are required to start paying court-ordered child support. One year from their date of release, they would be expected to start making payments.
How Does Tennessee’s New Bill Impact Georgia?
As National Public Radio (NPR) reports, several other states have shown interest in developing similar laws to the one now under consideration in Tennessee. As noted, Georgia is one of those states. The exact details of Georgia’s law will depend on a host of factors, including the politicians presently in office.
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You Have Legal Recourse if You Lost a Loved One in a Collision
If you lost a loved one due to a drunk driver in Georgia, you can pursue damages through legal action. At this time, you cannot seek ongoing child support payments. However, you can seek damages for:
- Medical costs: If the deceased survived the initial impact, they may have incurred expenses before their passing.
- Funeral costs: Laying a loved one to rest can get expensive. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) notes that even a simple funeral can cost thousands of dollars.
- Loss of companionship: You could pursue damages for the cost of losing your loved one’s love and society.
- Pain and suffering: Physical and psychological distress are natural consequences of car accident injuries––especially those that claim lives.
- Lost income: You can pursue financial recovery for the cost of your loved one’s income before their passing.
O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33 generally gives you two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Your filing period begins from the date of your loved one’s passing––not the date of the collision.
You Can Partner with a Wrongful Death Lawyer on Your Case
If you incurred damages after losing a loved one to drunk driving, you have options. With the help of a wrongful death lawyer, you can breathe easy while they manage your legal matters. They can:
- Identify the cause of your loved one’s passing
- Estimate the cost of your damages and pursue them accordingly
- Negotiate with the liable insurer
- Determine how long you have to file your lawsuit
- Advise you on your legal options
- Protect you from bad faith insurance practices
After losing a loved one, you deserve to focus on your family and spend time grieving. You shouldn’t have to manage a complicated legal case on your own. Our lawyers can manage everything the claims process entails.
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Connect with Kaine Law To Learn More About Your Legal Options
While Tennessee hopes to pass a bill that makes drunk drivers pay child support, Georgia does not have such a law in place…yet. In the meantime, you have legal options if your loved one passed away because of a drunk driver’s negligence.
Kaine Law advocates for wrongful death claimants. Our lawyers have recovered millions for DUI accident claimants. We know compensation can’t undo your grief. However, it can make your financial matters easier to manage.
To begin your free case review, call today.