It is a sad fact that drunk driving is still an epidemic in the United States. If you are faced with the trauma of a car accident caused by a drunk driver, you have the right to pursue a civil case with the driver. A civil case differs from the criminal case your local district attorney or prosecutor will file. The damages you might be able to collect include, but are not limited to, lost earnings, permanent disability, medical bills, disfigurement and even death.
In a criminal case, jail time is often the goal. When you file a civil case against the drunk driver, you are seeking financial compensation for your injuries. A civil claim is the only way you can recover compensation from the other driver, called “damages”.
In the case that a loved one was killed by that drunk driver, the family has the right to pursue a wrongful death case. The remedy in both the individual and death case is payment of damages. Within our legal system, a civil case is the only way to compensate the injured party by the negligent conduct of somebody else. The state cannot and will not pursue civil damages for you against the drunk driver.
Within driving laws, exists a duty of care statute that states that each driver owes other drivers the “duty of care” to drive safely and obey all traffic laws. In the civil lawsuit seeking damages, the plaintiff must prove that the other driver committed a breach of duty and that the breach caused the accident and their injuries. The fact that the other driver was drunk is not enough to prove negligence on its own. A negligent act or failure to act must be shown. Damages must be proved through medical bills, records and testimony.
Oftentimes, it is easier to get a guilty verdict in a civil case than in a criminal case as the burden of proof is very different. An attorney experienced in these types of cases 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 a family member is killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver, the family can bring a claim to recover such damages as any medical bills as well as funeral and burial expenses and may be able to recover damages due to lost income or reasonably expected to be lost in the future. The wrongful death action is usually a separate count in an injury lawsuit where other damages are also sought.
While California law requires all drivers to obtain auto insurance, it is not unusual for motorists to find themselves involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. Accidents and injuries caused by uninsured drivers is exactly what uninsured motorist insurance (UM) is for. 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 not mandatory in California as it is in some states.
Most insurance companies will cover you or your family members through UM insurance. However, many times when a UM claim is filed, your trusted insurance company can make recovering the damages very difficult. 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 $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 prosecutor only represents the State of California. He/she does not represent you. You are responsible for pursuing 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 La Mirada, you deserve fair compensation. You’ll want a knowledgeable, experienced and aggressive personal injury lawyer representing you. Contact our Los Angeles 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.
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