Unfortunately, despite the numerous public service programs aimed at educating drivers about the dangers of drinking and driving, drunk driving continues to be an epidemic all across the United States. If you are injured in an auto accident involving a drunk driver, you have the right to file a civil case with the driver. This 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, medical bills, lost earnings, permanent disability or disfigurement and even death.
Jail time is often the end result of a criminal case. Conversely, a civil case is a case in which you seeking a financial compensation for your injuries. A civil claim is the only way you can recover compensation, or “damages” from the other driver.
In the unfortunate case that a loved one was killed by a drunk driver, the family can file a wrongful death suit. The remedy in both the individual and death case is payment of damages. In the American legal system, this is the only way to compensate a person who was injured by the negligent conduct of another. The state cannot and will not do this for you in its case against the drunk driver. If you want to collect damages, you are required to go get them yourself.
In all states, driving laws assert that all drivers owe other drivers a “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 and that the breach caused the accident and their injuries. The fact that the other driver was drunk is not sufficient on its own to prove negligence. A negligent act or failure to act must be shown. Damages must be proven through medical bills, records and expert testimony.
It is typically easier to get a guilty verdict in a civil case than in a criminal case as the burden of proof is less strict. An experienced lawyer 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.
When a loved one is tragically killed in an auto accident caused by a drunk driver, the family is often able to bring a claim to recover such damages as burial and funeral expenses, any medical bills in connection with the injury and income lost or reasonably expected to be lost in the future.
While California law requires current auto insurance for all motorists, many find themselves involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. Accidents and injuries caused by uninsured drivers is exactly why 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 filed, your insurance company can make recovering the damages very difficult. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney can help you fight the insurance company. 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 Los Angeles County, you deserve fair compensation. You’ll want a knowledgeable, experienced and aggressive personal injury lawyer representing you. Reach out to the Duque Law offices today so that we can help you.
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