Personal Injury and Drunk Drivers: Know Your Rights
California law gives a variety of rights to the victims of auto accidents, but there are many legal conditions specific to injuries and damage caused by a drunk driver.
The lawyers at Bates Law have dedicated themselves to protecting the interests of accident victims and their personal injuries.
Whether you’ve been a victim of a drunk driving accident or know somebody who has, it’s important to understand your rights under the law and how they can be used to ensure you receive adequate compensation for your pain and suffering.
Criminal Vs. Civil Consequences for Drunk Driving
A drunk driver who causes a car accident is likely to be charged under criminal law, with consequences ranging from fines and license revocation to actual imprisonment. However, criminal law does not contain provisions for compensating the victims of a DUI accident for their suffering.
For that reason, it’s vital that you contact the lawyers at Bates Law immediately after an accident to determine whether you have standing to file a civil lawsuit against the drunk driver.
Filing a personal injury claim in civil court is the only way to seek compensation for damage caused to you or your property, but you’ll need to be able to prove that the offending driver was liable for the accident.
Understanding Drunk Driving Liability and Negligence
In order to win your personal injury lawsuit against a drunk driver, you need to prove that they were liable for the accident, and consequently liable for any injuries or damage caused to you and your loved ones.
To prove that liability, most personal injury cases attempt to prove that the drunk driver was negligent through their actions — in this case, by ingesting alcohol or other intoxicants before getting behind the wheel.
In a drunk driving case, there are two main types of negligence in play where the law is concerned: negligence per se and simple negligence.
Negligence per se is established when you can prove that the drunk driver violated a law and that the violation caused wrongful death, injury, or damage to property. In most drunk driving cases this is a simple matter, since the driver will likely be arrested and charged with a crime, thus establishing negligence per se and clearing the way for your personal injury lawsuit.
However, if the offending driver in your accident was not charged with a crime, your lawyers at Bates Law will work to establish basic negligence. To do so, you must be able to prove that the drunk driver violated their duty to drive safely by getting behind the wheel while intoxicated and that this action led directly to the accident that caused your injury, suffering, or property damage. It can be difficult to prove this type of negligence if you were also breaking traffic laws when the accident occurred through behavior like reckless driving or running a red light.
Damages for a California Drunk Driving Personal Injury Claim
There are three basic types of damages you can seek in a personal injury claim for drunk driving:
Economic damages: Awarded for clearly defined costs like medical bills, lost wages during recovery from injuries, and property damage.
Non-economic damages: Awarded for indefinable costs like mental anguish, suffering, and emotional distress.
Punitive damages: Most personal injury claims can’t seek punitive damages, but California law provides an exception for drunk driving claims. Punitive damages seek to further punish the drunk driver for their actions and can potentially award significant amounts of monetary compensation to the victims.
If you or your loved ones have been the victims of a drunk driving accident, contact the lawyers at Bates Law at (619) 222-0900 to seek legal advice. We are ready and waiting to protect your rights and ensure you receive the compensation due to you for your suffering
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