There is no doubt that drunk driving is a pandemic across the United States. If you are injured in a traffic accident caused by a drunk driver, you have the right to pursue a civil case with the driver that differs from the criminal case your local district attorney or prosecutor will file. The damages you may be able to collect include, but are not limited to, medical bills, lost earnings, permanent disability, disfigurement and even death.
Unlike in a criminal case, in which prison or jailtime is often the end result, when a citizen files a civil case against the drunk driver, they are seeking financial compensation for their injuries. A civil claim is the only way you can legally recover compensation from the other driver. This type of compensation is called “damages”.
In the case that a family member was killed by that drunk driver, the immediat survivors can file a wrongful death case. The outcome in both the individual and death case is payment of damages. In the American legal system, that is the only way to compensate somebody who was injured by the negligence of somebody else. The state cannot do that for you in its case against the drunk driver. If you want damages, you are need to get them yourself in court.
As mandated in traffic laws, all drivers owe other drivers the duty of care to drive safely and obey all traffic laws. In the lawsuit for damages, the plaintiff must prove that the other driver committed a breach of that duty that caused the accident and their injuries. The fact alone that the other driver was drunk isn’t enough to prove negligence. A negligent act or failure to act must be shown. Damages must be proved through medical bills, records and testimony.
Generally, getting a guilty verdict in a civil case is somewhat easier than in a criminal case since the burden of proof is very different. An experienced attorney can help you determine if you have a strong civil case. However, these complex cases require experienced knowledge from filing the correct paperwork in a timely manner to proving the breach of duty occured. Failure to prove any single element of the case will cause it to fail entirely.
If an accident caused by a drunk driver results in a fatality, the family can bring a claim to recover such damages as funeral and burial expenses, any medical bills in connection with the injury and income lost or reasonably expected to be lost in the future. The wrongful death action is separate count in an injury lawsuit where other damages are also sought.
While auto insurance is a statewide requirement in California, it is not unheard of for motorists to find themselves involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. Accidents and injuries caused by uninsured drivers is the reason that uninsured motorist insurance (UM) is available. UM typically covers bodily injury to the driver, family members and passengers of a vehicle in a motor vehicle collision caused by an uninsured driver. UM coverage is mandatory in some states, but it’s not mandatory in California.
Most insurance companies will cover you or your family members through UM insurance. However, many times when a UM claim is, your once trusted insurance company can make recovering the damages very complex. That is where an experienced attorney can help you. The last thing you want is to face the insurance company’s lawyers alone!
California law requires drivers to have a minimum of $15,000 in liability insurance, which is about enough for a night in the emergency room and a day in the hospital. Since mandatory liability limits are so low, under-insured motorist insurance is also available for when you have $85,000 in damages and the drunk driver only has $15,000 of coverage.
In the drunk driving criminal case, the local prosecutor only represents the State of California. He/she does not represent you. You are responsible for seeking your own damages if you believe you have a case. Even so, your insurance company will likely fight the claim you file and their team of lawyers know just how to do win. Luckily for you, so do we!
When you’ve been injured through the fault of a drunk driver in Costa Mesa, you deserve fair compensation. You’ll want a knowledgeable, experienced and aggressive personal injury lawyer representing you.
Contact our Orange County Personal Injury Attorneys at 1-877-241-9554 to learn more about your legal options. A free consultation is just a phone call away. You can even use our online contact form, and we’ll reply to you quickly.
Fields Marked With An ” *” Are Required