All across the country, accidents caused by drunk drivers have continued to be a daily occurrence. If you are involved in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, you have the right to collect damages in a civil case with the driver. Your local district attorney or prosecutor will file criminal charges, which are different from the case you can bring forth. The damages you might be able to collect include, but are not limited to, medical bills, lost earnings, permanent disability, disfigurement and even death.
When a prosecutor pursues a criminal case, they are seeking jail time for the offender.
Unlike a criminal case, a civil case against the drunk driver is seeking financial compensation for injuries, called “damages”.
If a loved one was killed by a drunk driver, the immediate family can file a wrongful death case. The remedy in both the individual and death case is payment of damages. The American legal system allows a civil case as the only means to compensate an injured party for the negligent conduct of the other driver. The state cannot do that for you in its case against the drunk driver. You alone can seek monetary compensation.
Driving laws state that all drivers owe other drivers the duty of care to obey all traffic laws and drive safely. In the lawsuit for civil damages, the plaintiff must prove that the other driver committed a breach of that duty that caused the accident and injuries. The assertion 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.
Many times getting a guilty verdict in a civil case is easier than in a criminal case as 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 a loved one is killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver, 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 usually a separate count in an injury lawsuit where other damages are also sought.
While auto insurance is required for all drivers in California, it is actually pretty common for motorists to find themselves involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. For this reason, most insurance companies off uninsured motorist insurance (UM). 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 insurance company can make recovering the damages very difficult to do. 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!
Contact our Los Angeles 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.
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