If you’ve been in a drunk driving accident in Laguna Hills, CA, your life has been disrupted. If you’re lucky, it’s mostly damage to your vehicle, but for most in that situation, there are serious medical problems or worse that must be handled. You deserve restitution for what you’ve been through. You deserve to be made whole again, or at least as close as possible, given that some things can’t ever be fully remedied. Everyone deserves compensation, whether that can make them whole again or not. At the Law Offices of Steven Zwick, it’s our job to help you get what you deserve. If you don’t want to let them get away with giving you less, then we are the legal team that you need.
California law sets the criteria for a DUI for the entire state, including Laguna Hills. The primary means of establishing a DUI is through a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test. There are four different BAC rates that qualify for a DUI:
Other substances may also qualify a driver for a DUI if they are impaired by over-the-counter medication, prescription medication, or illegal narcotics.
Just because a driver is charged with a DUI doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get restitution for the accident. A DUI charge is a criminal charge. Addressing the restitution due to you is a civil issue and is governed by civil law. So when addressing the civil issue, it will be necessary to tie the DUI to the accident through to your injuries. Don’t assume that just because someone was charged with a DUI, you will automatically be getting what is owed to you.
Always be careful when speaking with insurance agents after your accident. It is their aim to pay out as little as possible. They could look for anything you might say that could be seen as accepting fault and attempt to use it against you.
There is a limit to when you will be able to file a claim regarding drunk driving accidents. A civil claim regarding a car accident of any type is going to be governed by personal injury law. The statute of limitations regarding personal injury is two years from the injury, which, in this case, is the time of the car accident. With only two years to decide on filing a claim, it’s critical that you get a hold of the Law Offices of Steven Zwick as soon as possible. To give yourself the strongest chance of a successful claim, the sooner we begin the process of investigating, gathering evidence, calculating damages, negotiating, and preparing to file, the better your chances of success.
In almost all drunk driving cases, it is the drunk driver who is going to be held liable, and their insurance is going to have to pay out. However, to guarantee that, it will be necessary to prove what is called ‘negligence.’ There are three components to negligence, all of which must be true if the defendant is going to be held liable. They are:
If we consider these criteria in light of a DUI claim, we find that the first element is always true. Everyone who sits behind the wheel of a car has a duty to handle their vehicle responsibly, observe the rules of the road, and be mindful of other vehicles and their drivers.
A DUI is a clear breach of duty; however, there is a chance that the defense may claim that there was an issue with the method and handling of the test for the BAC level. That’s why an investigation will seek to find any corroborating evidence.
If the DUI is established and breach of duty is confirmed, the concern then becomes whether or not it was the cause of the accident. That may seem like an odd thing to have an issue with, but if we imagine a drunk driver sitting at a stop light and then getting rear-ended by a driver on their cell phone, it becomes clear that the fault is not with the drunk driver but rather the other driver who rear-ended them. So while the drunk driver may get a DUI after the police investigate, they aren’t really liable for anything. Therefore, a solid investigation and strong case must be built around showing that the DUI led directly to the accident.
When you finally have the negligence established, then the issue of damages must be addressed. Of course, it must be shown that any damages asked for are a result of the accident that is the result of the DUI. The damages in a DUI case will generally belong to one of two groups.
Economic damages are those that address quantifiable financial losses as a result of the accident. These are the kinds of things you shouldn’t have a problem getting a bill or an appraisal for, or, as in the case of lost wages, they are things you can calculate based on other financial information. Some things covered under economic damages include:
Non-economic damages cover things that are not strictly quantifiable. Instead, the court attempts to consider precedent and the unique elements of each case to come up with a fair financial amount. The kind of things that non-economic damages address are:
A: As counter-intuitive as it may seem, it’s not always a sure thing that a driver charged with a DUI will also be the one at fault in an accident. The reason for this is that fault is tied to the cause of the accident. This means that there are scenarios where a person could get a DUI but not have caused the accident. For instance, imagine someone above the legal limit passing through an intersection with a green light, driving the speed limit, and staying in their lane. If that driver were to be hit by a distracted driver running a red light, it would be the distracted driver who was at fault. However, the driver who got hit may still also get charged with drunk driving when the police investigate the scene.
A: As long as the drunk driver is found to be at fault, then they will likely be held responsible for the medical bills of the other driver. However, it will be the insurance company that pays this money.
A: California dram shop laws, which address the matter of liability regarding serving alcohol, offer a broad range of protection for bars and other establishments serving alcohol. The only circumstance in which you can file a claim against these establishments is for over-serving an already intoxicated minor.
A: The police will determine if the other driver is over the legal limit, but by the time they reach the scene, it’s possible that the other driver will have attempted to hide any signs of alcohol. So it’s important that you notify the police if you happen to notice any slurred speech, smell of alcohol, or anything else that seems to indicate possible intoxication. The same should be said regarding anything related to possible drug use, which could also be a DUI and indicate liability for the accident.
A drunk driving accident can take away so much. The law, though, says that restitution needs to be made by those responsible. It also requires that drivers carry insurance to cover that restitution. Even so, it still can be difficult to get what you’re owed, but you don’t have to pursue it on your own. At the Law Offices of Steven Zwick, we can help you seek the compensation you are owed. From investigation through court proceedings, we will fight on your behalf. Contact us today and tell us about your situation.