Drunk Driver Accident Attorneys
The effects of a crash caused by a drunk or impaired driver can be devastating and can last a lifetime. Victims and survivors of such accidents not only have to struggle with the physical and emotional trauma that follows, but also deal with the associated medical and legal issues.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an accident caused by an impaired driver, the law is decidedly on your side. The driver faces not only stiff criminal penalties, but also substantial civil liabilities. Legally, the defendant is obligated to pay for your injuries or loss of your loved one, including your pain and suffering. The DUI accident lawyers at Demas Law Group can help you hold the intoxicated or impaired driver accountable.
Consequences for Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
In California, the average penalty for driving under the influence (of alcohol or other substances) is a night in jail, thousands of dollars in fines and an automatic four-month driver’s license suspension. A drunk driver who causes a serious or fatal injury accident faces a lengthy prison sentence. With these stiff penalties in place and our increased awareness of the hazards of drunk driving, it’s surprising that driving under the influence isn’t a thing of the past. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
According to the California Highway Patrol, more than 1,000 people are killed by drunk drivers every year in the state, and more than 20,000 are injured. One out of five fatal automobile accidents is caused by a drunk driver. In El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties combined, drunk drivers killed 69 people and injured 1,413 others last year.
Alcohol isn’t the only problem when it comes to the impaired drivers on our roads. It’s estimated that 10 percent of the population has driven under the influence of a prescription or illicit drug at least once during the past year. Exactly how many of these drivers cause accidents is unclear, but there’s no question that they add to the death and injury toll.
Holding Drunk Drivers Accountable
When a drunk driver causes serious injury or death, they are charged with felony DUI, “Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or a Drug and Causing Injury,” which carries substantial criminal penalties, including a potential prison sentence upon conviction.
If you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, or a driver intoxicated on prescription or illicit drugs, you’re entitled to sue the driver in civil court for your damages, no matter how extensive. Motor vehicle collisions can cause many, serious injuries, lifelong debilitation, or other pain and suffering. This can add up to millions of dollars especially if the accident resulted in a loved one’s death. You are also entitled to punitive damages; compensation designed to punish the driver’s flagrant negligence.
There can be many different parties involved in a drunk driving accident. Potential litigants include the defendant, the defendant’s insurance company and the defendant’s employer. Each will fight for every penny because the stakes are very high. Putting an experienced California DUI accident attorney from Demas Law Group on your side can help ensure justice prevails.
FAQs about Drunk Driving Accidents
1. How are drunk driving accidents different than other accidents?
Drunk driving cases are different than other injury accidents because criminal charges are involved. Felony DUI is a serious crime that can carry a prison sentence upon conviction. The crime is charged by the district attorney and prosecuted in criminal court.The criminal court does not address the compensation owed to the drunk driver’s victims. That occurs as a separate legal action in civil court, when the victim files a lawsuit for damages. The criminal and civil actions are independent. The defendant need not be found guilty of criminal charges in order for victims to file a lawsuit for damages.Negligence in DUI accidents is generally clear-cut, which makes for a strong case in civil court. But the fact that two separate legal actions are involved can make such cases complicated. That’s one reason why it’s important to consult with one of the experienced accident attorneys at Demas Law Group as soon as possible after your accident. We are conveniently located in Sacramento.
2. What should I do if I’ve been injured by a drunk driver?
The first step you should take is to notify the authorities and get immediate and adequate medical attention. Documenting your accident and injury is the next crucial step in building your case against the intoxicated driver. Make sure you take detailed notes of the incident, and obtain contact information for any witnesses. Finally, it is imperative that you consult with a personal injury lawyer prior to talking to the insurance company.
3. My family member was killed by a drunk driver. What are my legal options?
It may be possible to file a wrongful death claim. Demas Law Group has extensive experience with such legal actions. Please see our section on wrongful death claims
for more information.
4. Who pays compensation to victims of drunk drivers?
The parties legally responsible to provide compensation in drunk driving accidents vary with the type of accident and can include:
- The driver’s insurance company.
- The victim’s insurance company, if the driver has no insurance.
- The driver’s employer, if the driver was on the job in a company vehicle.
- Anyone who loaned a vehicle to the intoxicated driver.
- Drinking establishments that allowed the intoxicated patron to drive home.
To determine who may be liable in your situation, please consult with one of our drunk driving attorneys. Our initial consultation is free of charge.
5. I was partly at fault for my car accident, but the other driver was legally intoxicated. Do I still have a case?
In such cases, the rules of comparative negligence apply. In California, the damage award is reduced by the degree of fault of the plaintiff. For example, if you are found 30 percent responsible for the accident, any compensation you receive will be reduced by 30 percent. For example, a $100,000 award will be reduced by 30 percent to $70,000.
6. Do criminal proceedings against a drunk driver have to be completed before I can pursue a civil action against the driver?
No. We would advise you to file a civil suit before the criminal proceedings against the drunk driver are concluded. Considering the limited time you have to file a suit to recover damages against a drunk driver, it is best not to wait. A Demas Law Group personal injury attorney can discuss this with you in more detail.
7. Where can I get more information on filing a civil lawsuit against a drunk driver?
For more information, we would strongly encourage you to contact us
for a free consultation. You may also visit our General FAQs
section for more information on filing a personal injury claim and the types of damages you can recover.
8. Where can I obtain more information about the impacts of drunk driving accidents and access victim support resources?
Demas Law Group is an ardent supporter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and often refers clients to their support services. For more information, visit www.madd.org. Another good source of information is Advocates Against Impaired Driving, or AAID. Visit their website at www.aaidonline.org.