How To Protect Your Rights as a Victim of a Drunk Driver
Drunk driving is a potentially disastrous and fatal problem that can devastate victims and their families. It has led to the untimely demise of countless lives and has caused severe injuries requiring lifelong medical care and attention.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a drunk driver in California, it is crucial to understand your rights and take the essential steps to protect them. Below are some guidelines on the steps you can take to seek justice and hold an errant drunk driver accountable in California.
The Law Against Drunk Driving in California
Under California Vehicle Code section 23152, it is illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This prohibition includes driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. If a driver violates this law, they may face criminal charges and potentially severe penalties, including jail time, fines, and the suspension or revocation of their driver’s license.
Furthermore, California Civil Code section 1714.1 imposes a higher standard of care on individuals or entities that serve alcohol to the public. Accordingly, this law requires them to exercise reasonable care to prevent their customers from dangerous intoxication or driving while under the influence and causing disastrous vehicular accidents.
Relevant Statistics on Drunk Driving in California
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 10,000 deaths in the United States occur yearly from crashes or accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers. Moreover, in California, the percentage of adults who admit to driving despite inebriation just falls 0.2% below the national average.
Consistently, driving under the influence of alcohol is the top cause of fatal and severe injuries in California, over other violations of the California Vehicle Code, including driving at an unsafe speed and improper turning.
What To Do After Being Involved in a Car Accident With a Drunk Driver
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a drunk driver in California, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the responsible party to seek damages for your injuries and losses. This process covers medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You may also be able to seek punitive damages, which are intended to punish the drunk driver at fault and deter others from engaging in similar behavior.
To protect your rights as a victim of a drunk driver in California, here are the essential steps you need to take to seek recovery and compensation:
- Seek immediate medical attention
Drunk driver car accident victims who have been injured in a drunk driving accident must seek medical attention as soon as possible. Doing so will ensure that victims receive the necessary treatment and create a record of injuries, which can be used as evidence in a civil lawsuit.
- Gather evidence
It is crucial to gather as much evidence as possible to strengthen any claim that you will make against a drunk driver. Evidence, in this case, can include police reports, witness statements, photographs of the accident scene and your injuries, and any other relevant documentation.
- Contact an attorney
It is highly recommended that you seek the assistance of a qualified personal injury attorney with quantifiable experience handling drunk driving cases. An excellent and successful attorney will help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights from start to finish.
- File a claim with the drunk driver at fault’s insurance company
If you have been injured or have suffered property damage in a drunk driving accident, you should file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In California, all drivers are required to carry liability insurance to cover damages they may cause in an accident. As such, you should provide the insurance company with all relevant documentation, including the police report, photographs of the accident scene, and documentation of your injuries and property damage.
Be advised, however, that you should neither give a recorded statement to the drunk driver’s insurance company nor accept any settlement offer without consulting with an attorney. (Read: I’m Not at Fault, How Do I Get a Maximum Car Accident Insurance Settlement?)
- File a lawsuit
In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is generally two years from the date of the accident. In this regard, drunk driver car accident victims have two years from the date of the accident to file a civil lawsuit. Therefore, it is vital to act promptly to ensure you pursue your case within the statute of limitations. (Read: Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases)
- Participate in the discovery process
Once you have filed a lawsuit against a drunk driver at fault, you will likely be required to participate in the discovery process. During discovery, both parties will exchange information and evidence. Cooperating with this process and being honest and forthcoming with your attorney and the other party is essential to build your credibility as a victim of a drunk driver.
- Attend court hearings
If your case goes to trial, you are required to attend court hearings and possibly testify. Thus, ensure that you are prepared and follow the guidance of your attorney.
The Best Personal Injury Attorney to Protect Your Rights Against a Drunk Driver in California
The legal process may inevitably take time. However, by following the steps outlined above and working with an experienced personal injury lawyer, you can protect your rights and seek the compensation you deserve as a drunk driving victim.
The necessity of hiring a skilled personal injury attorney when filing a claim or a car accident lawsuit as a victim of a drunk driver can never be underscored enough. An excellent personal injury attorney will guide you through the legal process, communicate with the opposing insurance company, and represent you in court if necessary.
When searching for an attorney, inquire about their previous experience handling similar cases, success rate, and fee structure. For top-notch legal representation in California, Farahi Law Firm stands out as an award-winning firm with a team of exceptional personal injury lawyers and car accident specialists. Contact Farahi Law Firm today for a free case evaluation.