Lake Forest Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer

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Law Offices of Steven Zwick

Lake Forest Drunk Driving Accident Attorney

Any car accident can be a dangerous situation, but accidents with a drunk driver are even more so. You might think that a drunk driver is automatically liable for compensating you for everything you are owed after an accident. However, that’s not always clear. Even if the liability is undeniable, the insurance companies responsible for the payout will normally do everything they can to minimize the check they cut. In other words, as if being in an accident wasn’t enough, you also need to fight to get what you deserve. Let us at the Law Offices of Steven Zwick be the team that fights on your behalf.

Lake Forest Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer

Lake Forest Drunk Driving

Drunk driving in Lake Forest is determined by California state law. There are a few different ways someone can be charged with a DUI. One way is by having a blood alcohol concentration over:

  • 0.08% for anyone over 21
  • 0.04% for anyone operating a commercial vehicle
  • 0.04% for anyone on DUI probation
  • 0% for anyone under 21

A DUI also covers other ways in which someone’s ability to operate a motor vehicle is hampered by a substance. A person can be charged with a DUI if they are impaired by:

  • Illegal Narcotics
  • Prescription Medications
  • Over-the-Counter Medications

Criminal Charges and Civil Liability

There is a difference between the charge of DUI and liability for the injuries you suffer as a result of the DUI. A DUI is a criminal charge that will be handled in a criminal court. Your injuries are a civil matter and, if unable to be negotiated outside of court, will need to be handled in a civil court. Just because someone is being charged with a DUI doesn’t automatically make them liable in a civil court. Liability in the civil court is argued separately.

After the Accident, the Law Offices of Steven Zwick Can Help

At the Law Offices of Steven Zwick, we have the skills and experience that you’ll need after being in a drunk driving accident. Many people think that after an accident, the insurance will just pay out what you are owed. Unfortunately, it often can be far more complex than that. The insurance company would like to keep their costs, which include what they payout in these situations, as low as possible. Whatever they can avoid paying to you will be added to their bottom line. Thus, it becomes necessary to push back against what the insurance company is offering.

What we do is help investigate your accident in Lake Forest, CA so that we can argue against any claim of your fault from the insurance companies. We can help you negotiate with the insurance company for a settlement that is fair and helps to cover what you’ve lost in the accident beyond the financial aspects. Lastly, if we can’t reach an agreement and need to take your case to court, we can see your case through to the finish and argue for you.

Two Years to File

Make sure you contact us as soon as you can. Personal injury law in California, which a DUI accident would fall under, states that a claim must be filed within two years of the injury. That may seem like a while, but a lot needs to be accomplished in that window. The accident needs to be investigated. We will need to help you calculate your losses, both current and future. We also need time to negotiate with the insurance companies and see if there might be an agreement that could avoid a lengthy and costly trial. The sooner we begin the process, the sooner we can get you the compensation you deserve.

Proving Fault

Car accident civil claims, like those involving a DUI, are prosecuted under California’s personal injury law. This means that you need to prove negligence on the part of the defendant if you wish to receive damages. According to the law, negligence consists of three components, all of which must be present.

  • There must be a Duty to Care. The defendant must be shown to have a responsibility to those around them in a given circumstance.
  • It must be shown that there was a Breach of Duty. You must be able to show that the defendant did not uphold their duty and failed to act as a reasonably careful person would have.
  • Lastly, it must be shown that the breach of duty was the cause of the accident.

One of the things a lawyer helps with is crafting the argument for negligence. In the case of any car accident, the idea of being a duty to care is pretty well understood. All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles responsibly and respectfully to those around them. There can be some challenges to the legitimacy of the DUI. However, if it can be proved, then it is most certainly a breach of duty, as it is a clear violation of the rules of the road.

Where there may be the most challenges is when arguing that the DUI was the cause of the accident. That may seem odd, but consider a scenario where one car is driving the speeding limit and maintaining its lane. If another car fails to check before merging and slams into that car, then even if the driver maintaining their lane and speed limit has blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit, the accident is not really their fault. They may be charged with a DUI but be at no fault for the accident. It must be shown that the DUI was causal regarding the accident and not an unrelated element. If, though, cause can be established, that allows damages to be awarded.

Damages You May Be Owed

In general, the damages you will be awarded in a DUI accident personal liability claim will come from two different categories:

  • Economic damages are used to cover financial losses that you endured as a result of the DUI. They cover things like medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and reduced future earning capacity.
  • Non-economic damages are used to address the costs of an injury that aren’t easily quantifiable. Things like emotional anguish or pain and suffering as a result of your injuries would be included in these damages.

One potentially limiting factor on the damages you can receive is if you are found to share part of the fault. California is a comparative fault state, which means that you may be seen as being partially responsible for the accident if you were also found to have a breach of duty that was partially causal. For instance, if you were turning but failed to signal as the drunk driver hit you, you may be given a percentage share of the fault. The damages paid are measured proportionate to the share of fault between the two drivers.

DUI Car Accident Attorney FAQs

Q: What Can I Expect in a Settlement for a Drunk Driving Accident in Lake Forest, California?

A: Predicting what you can expect is difficult without knowing the particulars of your case. The unique factors in each case, from injuries sustained to the earning power of those injured, determine the financial outcome of each case. If we get the chance to take a look at your accident, your losses, and your situation in totality, we can better help you understand what your case looks like. If we negotiate a settlement for you, we will do everything we can to make sure you get a fair outcome and what you deserve.

Q: Will the Intoxicated Driver Who Hit Me Go to Jail in California?

A: Whether or not the driver will go to jail is a question for criminal courts to decide, while your restitution is a civil matter. The sentencing on the criminal side will be determined by a variety of factors, such as the extent of the harm done, if the driver has had prior DUI offenses, and any surrounding circumstances.

Q: If the Other Driver in an Accident Has Been Drinking, What Should I Do?

A: Always call emergency services when involved in an accident. When the police arrive, notify them of anything that seems to indicate the possibility of the other driver being drunk. The police officers will handle it from there.

Q: Can a Bar Be Sued for Over-Serving the Drunk Driver Who Hit Me?

A: Liability laws for establishments that serve alcohol regarding customers who get drunk at their establishment are called dram laws. California has relatively limited dram laws. In almost all cases, a bar or restaurant that has over-served a customer cannot be held liable for anything that the customer has done. The only exception is if they provide alcohol to a minor who is already intoxicated.

The Team You Need

Getting what you deserve after being in a drunk driving accident takes a team. You’ll likely find yourself dealing with insurance companies that have a team of lawyers on their side. To even the odds, you need a team that you can trust. At the Law Offices of Steven Zwick, we can be the team that helps investigate your accident, negotiate with the insurance company, and, if needed, make your case in court. If you are looking to put together your team, contact us today.

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