Injured By a DUI Driver
Damages: What You Need to Know
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, however, 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 their 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. Unfortunately, this liability as been severely limited by statute in California, but possibilities still exist and should be explored.
- 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 Person's Own Insurance - In some circumstances, claims may be made under the person's uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist (UIM/UM).
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 assist and support 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.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
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.