Accidents and Injuries Caused by Driving Under The Influence
According to the National Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 2009 report on traffic safety, "...32% of all fatal crashes involved alcohol impaired driving...". In the deadly times of midnight to three a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, "...66% involved alcohol impaired driving." (To see the full study, click on the following link for a PDF version: NTSA Traffic Safety Facts 2009.) This study also reviewed alcohol-impaired driving crashes and children. In the age group of 14 and under, 14% were killed in alcohol-impaired crashes. Even more tragically, about half of those killed were passengers in a vehicle driven by a driver with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. Not surprisingly, California tops the nation in traffic fatalities of children under age 14, with only Texas higher. About one-third of all California fatalities involved a driver with some alcohol in his/her system.
If you were hit by a DUI driver...
Although DUI is against the law in California, there are still many motor vehicle crashes every year involving DUI. Alcohol and/or drugs impair the judgement and reflexes of a driver in order to avoid a collision. There are other issues with these types of collisions that do not apply to other car crashes. First, since driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a crime, you may be asked to be a witness in the criminal prosecution of the DUI driver. Additionally, you may be eligible for "victim compensation funds" from the state of California. These are special funds set aside by the state. If this is the case, it is advisable to speak with a car accident attorney in order to protect your claim.
DUI Criminal Proceedings vs. Civil Suits for Drunk Driving Injuries
A civil suit for DUI damages and injuries is a separate -- and distinct process- from any criminal proceedings a DUI driver may face. Criminal proceedings are intended to protect the public from future harm by acting as a deterrent to drunk driving, as well as to punish the DUI driver for there behavior. A DUI driver can face criminal prosecution even if there is no accident or injury involved.
A civil suit based on drunk driving comes in the form of an injury lawsuit filed by the victim of a drunk driver, or in the case of a fatality, filed by the victim’s family, to recover damages. If you are injured by a drunk driver, a civil suit for damages could be your only recourse when attempting to recover the costs of medical treatment, lost wages, damaged property and damages for 'pain and suffering'.
Who Is Responsible for Drunk Driving Accident Injuries ?
Several of parties or individuals may be held responsible for drunk driving accidents, including:
- DUI Drivers
Of course, DUI drivers are responsible for their own behavior, including choosing to drive their cars after consuming too much alcohol.
- Social Hosts
People or organizations who host parties or social events where alcohol is served may be held liable in the event a guest causes a drunk driving accident, especially if the host was known to provide alcohol to the guest after he or she was clearly was intoxicated or had to much too drink.
- Bar/Restaurant Staff & Owners
Under California Civil Code 1714 Bar and restaurant owners and employees have some protection from liability. However they may still be held responsible for drunk driving accidents in certain circumstances. For example, it is their responsibility to stop serving patrons that appear to be intoxicated.
- The Injured Persons Own Insurance. In some circumstances claims may be made under the person's UIM/UM insurance policy
Wrongful Death and Drunk Driving
Before saying anything else, we want you to know that our hearts go out to you, and your entire family in the midst of this profoundly painful and distressing situation. We can imagine that you are experiencing a wide range of conflicting emotions right now. We want you to know that we care deeply about your situation and are here to come alongside you in any way we can.
If a family member is killed by a drunk driver, you or the deceased person's personal representative my file a civil suit for wrongful death on behalf of the loved one’s estate. A wrongful death suit is the way family members ensure that those surviving the deceased have some financial stability. Wrongful death suits are a variation on a standard personal injury negligence lawsuit as both economic and non-economic damages are available. Sometimes, punitive damages our recoverable. Punitive damages are arbitrary amounts awarded with the sole intent of punishing the drunk driver and deterring future drunk driving incidents.
If you or someone you love has been injured or even killed by a person under the influence of alcohol or drugs, that driver is responsible for all damages. It is also possible that the person or establishment that provided the alcohol to the driver may share responsibility. An auto accident attorney is an important factor which may determine the outcome of your claim. Every claim is different, and must be evaluated on an individual basis, so the information provided here is for general informative purposes only, as it simplifies complex legal issues. It is not intended to be legal advice. For information about your specific claim, please contact an auto accident attorney to evaluate your situation.
As consumer justice attorneys, Phillips Law Office is dedicated to assisting and fighting for individuals who have been injured, disabled or had a family member killed in all types of vehicle or pedestrian crashes in Nevada County, Placer County and the Gold Country area. We offer legal help and assistance in auto, truck, bus, motorcycle, bicycle and pedestrian cases. We are a local firm emphasizing personal contact with our clients.