Despite an increase in public service programs aimed at educating drivers about the dangers of drinking and driving, there is no denying that drunk driving continues to be an epidemic in this country. If you are injured in a car accident involving a drunk driver, you have the right to file 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, permanent disability, disfigurement and even death.
In a criminal case, jail or prison time is often the goal. A civil case, on the other hand, is a case in which you 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 family member received fatal injuries as a result of a drunk driver accident, 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, 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 all states, driving laws mandate that all drivers owe other drivers the 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 that caused the accident and their injuries. 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.
Oftentimes, it is less complicated to get a guilty verdict in a civil case 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.
When a loved one is killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver, the immediate family is often allowed to 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 California law requires basic auto insurance for all motorists, it is not unusual to find yourself 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 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, far too often when a UM claim is filed, your insurance company can make recovering the damages very complicated. 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 a minimum of $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 local 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 Torrance, 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 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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