Despite the growing number of public awareness campaigns as well as the threat of jail/prison time, drunk driving is a daily occurence that affects innocent lives within Riverside County.
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, you have the right to pursue a civil case with the driver. This civil case is separate 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, disfigurement and even death.
The civil consequences of a DUI-related car accident do not include jail time, but they can still be quite serious. If the drunk driver injured someone, the injured person’s claim might be worth more than the drunk driver’s insurance covers. In that case, the drunk driver is going to have pay out of his/her own pocket.
In the case that a loved one was killed by that drunk driver, the immediate family can file a wrongful death case. The remedy in both the individual and death case is payment of damages. In the American legal system, a civil lawsuit is the only way to compensate an individual who was injured by the negligent conduct of another individual. The state cannot do that for you in its criminal case against the drunk driver. If you want damages, you are required to go get them yourself.
By law, every driver in every state has a basic legal duty to operate their motor vehicle in a non-negligent manner. 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 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 testimony.
Typically, 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 and less strict. 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.
The family of a loved one tragically killed in an auto accident caused by a drunk driver 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 usually a separate count in an injury lawsuit where other damages are also sought.
It is not implausible to think that someone who drives drunk may also be irresponsible enough to drive without auto insurance. While insurance is a requirement within California, it is not unusual for motorists to find themselves involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. Uninsured motorist insurance (UM) is available for just this reason. 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.
In theory, most auto 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!
Under California law, drivers are only required 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.
Prosecutors will only represent the interests of the State of California in the criminal portion of the case. 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 Riverside 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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