Riverside Law Office
11801 Pierce Street, Suite 200
Riverside CA 92505
| Duque Law
Despite all of the public awareness campaigns and the possibility of jail time or prison time, drunk drivers are frequently the cause of motor vehicle collisions in Riverside. If you are injured in a car 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 might be able to collect include, but are not limited to, medical bills, lost earnings and permanent disability and/or disfigurement.
When you file a civil case against the drunk driver, you are seeking a financial compensation for your injuries. A civil claim is the only way you can recover compensation from the other driver. This type of compensation is called “damages”.
In the case that a loved one was killed by that drunk driver, the 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, that is the only way to compensate somebody who was injured by the negligent conduct of somebody else. The state cannot do that for you in its case against the drunk driver. If you want damages, you are required to go get them yourself.
In the lawsuit for damages, the plaintiff must prove that the other driver was bound by a duty, that there was a breach of that duty, that they caused the collision, and that the negligence was the proximate cause of the damages that the plaintiff claims. These cases get complex as soon as drafting the lawsuit begins. They get increasingly more complex after that. Failure to prove any single element of the case will cause it to fail entirely. 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.
A viable wrongful death claim arises in California when one person is killed by the negligence of another. The action is brought by the survivors of the person who was killed. The law in California only permits certain people to bring the wrongful death action. Damages are ordinarily limited to 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.
If somebody is irresponsible enough to drive drunk, they may well be irresponsible enough to drive without insurance too. Yes, insurance is required in California, but so is sobriety when driving. 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 mandatory in some states, but it’s not mandatory in California. You can purchase UM coverage though the same insurance company that insures you for liability. Most insurance companies will cover you or your family members through UM even if you were riding a bicycle or were a pedestrian and got hit by an uninsured driver. When you file your UM claim though, your trusted insurance company turns into your adversary just like any other insurance company. The claim quickly becomes very complex.
California only requires drivers to have $15,000 in liability insurance. That’s about enough for a night in the emergency room and a day in the hospital. Because mandatory liability limits are so low, underinsured motorist insurance is also available for when you have $85,000 in damages and the drunk driver only has $15,000 of coverage. Again though, if you file an underinsured motorist claim, your trusted insurance company will quickly turn into your adversary.
In the drunk driving criminal case, the prosecutor only represents the State of California. He or she doesn’t represent you. You’re required to pursue your own damages case. Prosecutors don’t do that for you. Without appropriate insurance coverage, you can be left without recourse for damages. Even when you have that insurance, it’s highly likely that your own insurance company will turn into your opponent.
When you’ve been injured through the fault of a drunk driver in Riverside, 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.
Contact our Riverside County Personal Injury Attorney 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.