In the vibrant city of Los Angeles, where life moves at the speed of Hollywood dreams, the unfortunate reality of drunk driving accidents can cast a dark shadow on the bustling streets. As a victim of such a harrowing incident, seeking justice and navigating the legal aftermath can be an overwhelming experience. This is where the expertise of a dedicated Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer becomes paramount.
In this blog, we delve into the critical role that a Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer plays in Los Angeles, shedding light on the complexities of these cases and the invaluable support they provide to those affected. Whether you’re a victim seeking compensation or a concerned party wanting to understand the legal intricacies, join us on a journey through the legal landscape of drunk driving accidents in the City of Angels.
Why Hire Our Los Angeles Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers?
Whenever we operate a vehicle, it is our responsibility to adhere to traffic laws and prioritize safe driving practices. As lawful drivers, we bear a duty of care towards our fellow road users. While numerous factors can contribute to accidents, individuals who opt to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, commonly referred to as driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI), directly create hazardous conditions. Such instances of irresponsible driving can lead to profound and life-altering consequences.
Despite concerted efforts by law enforcement and various organizations to discourage this negligent behavior, there is no guarantee that victims of accidents caused by impaired driving will receive fair compensation for their losses.
Here at our legal firm, we aspire to be your advocates in recovering what you have lost as a victim of a drunk driving accident. If you or a family member has experienced an accident due to the negligence of a drunk driver, it is crucial to reach out to MKP Law Group, LLP in Beverly Hills today. Our dedicated attorneys are prepared to actively pursue justice on your behalf.
DWI and DUI Laws in Los Angeles
In Los Angeles County, individuals operating motor vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol encounter stringent penalties for their unsafe behavior.
Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeding the legal limit of 0.08 is illegal, resulting in potential charges and convictions for driving under the influence, commonly known as “DUI.”
For those under 21, zero tolerance laws prohibit driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in their systems. Any BAC measurement at 0.01 or higher can lead to a DUI conviction.
DUI arrests and convictions result in severe penalties, contingent on field sobriety test (FST) outcomes and whether it is the driver’s first offense. Field sobriety tests, conducted on-site after a traffic stop, often involve a breathalyzer.
Typical DUI penalties encompass:
- Loss of driving privileges, such as driver’s license suspension or revocation.
- Monetary fines.
In Los Angeles and California, criminal charges for drunk driving are filed under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a).
DUI offenses also cover driving under the influence of drugs, whether illicit or prescribed, prosecuted under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(f).
Misdemeanor charges, typically for first-time offenses, may be applied to those driving under the influence. Repeat offenders may face felony DUI charges for more severe violations.
Intoxicated driving laws vary across states, with “DUI” and “DWI” being interchangeable terms. The specific criminal charges depend on the state where the motor vehicle incident occurred.
Civil Laws for Protecting Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents
While criminal charges are imposed on drunk and intoxicated drivers for their DUI offenses, civil laws establish a framework enabling victims injured by such drivers to pursue legal action.
Upon a driver’s conviction, they may face significant consequences, including severe penalties, restrictions, and, in certain cases, incarceration. While these repercussions are substantial, individuals victimized by drunk driving accidents frequently contend with severe injuries and enduring impairments that profoundly impact their daily lives, making it challenging or even impossible.
Victims of drunk driving accidents must understand that the legal system provides avenues for them to seek comprehensive financial compensation for their losses. Civil laws offer opportunities for these victims to pursue legal remedies beyond the criminal charges faced by the responsible driver.
Hit by a drunk driver? What To Do Next
Every year, car accidents caused by drunk and intoxicated drivers have far-reaching consequences, affecting thousands of individuals throughout California. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that drunk driving crashes contribute to 29 fatalities daily in the United States, equivalent to a drunk driving-related death occurring every 50 minutes. In the aftermath of an auto accident caused by a driver operating under the influence, it is essential to undertake several steps to strengthen your injury claim. These steps include:
1. Stay at the Scene of the Accident
Even if you are not the party responsible for the auto accident, California law mandates that you remain at the scene of the incident. If it is safe to do so, consider moving your vehicle to the side of the road to mitigate the risk of additional harm to yourself or others. This legal requirement ensures accountability and allows for the proper exchange of information among parties involved in the accident.
2. Seek Immediate Medical Treatment
If you have sustained injuries in a drunk driving auto accident, it is crucial to seek immediate medical care and treatment. Obtaining prompt medical attention following a crash caused by a drunk driver serves several important purposes. First and foremost, it allows for the timely identification and treatment of any injuries you may have incurred.
Additionally, seeking immediate medical care is vital because delays in treatment can provide insurance companies with grounds to downplay the seriousness of your injuries or argue that they are unrelated to the accident. Timely medical documentation can significantly strengthen your case and establish a clear link between the injuries you suffered and the drunk driving incident. Therefore, it is in your best interest to prioritize your health and well-being by seeking prompt medical attention after such an unfortunate event.
3. Report the Accident to Police
If you are physically able to do so after an auto accident, it is advisable to call the police immediately. Law enforcement officers play a crucial role in documenting the incident by generating police reports. These reports provide essential details on how the accident occurred, assign fault, and include information on whether the other driver was driving while intoxicated.
The arresting officer, if applicable, has the authority to administer drug or alcohol tests to the other driver, and the results can be included in the official police report. This documentation becomes valuable evidence in establishing the circumstances surrounding the accident, especially in cases involving drunk driving. Contacting the police promptly helps ensure a thorough and accurate account of the events leading up to the collision.
4. Gather Evidence
If you are physically capable, it is highly recommended to take photographs of the motor vehicles involved in the auto accident at the scene. These photographs can serve as crucial evidence in documenting the extent of damage, positions of the vehicles, and other relevant details that may help in determining fault and establishing the circumstances of the crash.
Additionally, it is important to obtain contact information from any witnesses present at the scene. Witnesses can provide valuable accounts of what transpired and may be willing to provide statements to law enforcement or your insurance company. Their testimony can contribute to building a comprehensive and accurate picture of the events leading up to the accident.
Collecting this information promptly can be beneficial in supporting your injury claim and ensuring that all relevant details are documented for future reference.
Common Injuries from Drunk Driving Accidents
While it holds that any motor vehicle accident can result in severe consequences and catastrophic injuries, this is particularly accentuated in the case of DUI accidents. Due to impaired drivers exhibiting slower reaction times compared to their sober counterparts, the resulting accidents often escalate to levels of severity beyond typical car accidents. Similar to regular car accidents, victims of DUI incidents frequently endure injuries of a fatal or life-altering nature, such as lifelong brain injuries or disfigurement. Common injuries suffered by those involved in drunk or impaired driving accidents encompass:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Fractured Bones
- Spinal Injuries
- Lacerations & Bruises
- Psychological Trauma
In instances where a victim succumbs to a drunk driving crash, their family may pursue a wrongful death action against the impaired driver to seek compensation for medical expenses.
Recovering Damages for Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents
The justice system affords victims of drunk driving accidents specific legal rights, granting them the opportunity to seek monetary compensation for injuries through the filing of a personal injury case.
Drunk driving accident victims have the option to file insurance claims against the intoxicated driver to cover property damage to their vehicle and bodily injuries. However, due to insurance companies often aiming to minimize payouts and not prioritizing the victim’s best interests, pursuing legal action against the drunk driver may become necessary to secure full compensation for medical expenses.
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a DUI accident, the following are potential types of damages that may be recoverable:
- Medical Bills and Expenses (Past & Future)
- Lost Earnings or Loss of Earning Capacity
- Pain & Suffering
- Property Damage
- Emotional Distress
- Punitive Damages
Average Drunk Driver Settlement in Los Angeles
Insurance companies operate as businesses, prioritizing their financial interests rather than the well-being of victims or their families in drunk driving cases. Their primary goal is to settle personal injury lawsuits for the least amount possible.
Unless the intoxicated driver is uninsured, the insurance company typically assumes the defense for the drunk driver. In many instances, the insurance company aims to reach an out-of-court settlement before a formal lawsuit is initiated. This approach is driven by the company’s desire to avoid trials where a jury, potentially sympathetic to the victim, could issue a substantial verdict.
However, there are situations where the insurance company, perceiving the victim as partially responsible, refuses to settle, necessitating the filing of a lawsuit. A defense lawyer is then retained for the drunk driver, and the case may progress to trial, where the final outcome is determined.
Calculating the Value of Your Settlement
Indeed, each drunk driving accident case is unique, making settlements or recoveries inherently diverse and challenging to precisely calculate. Insurance companies, operating with distinct policies and procedures, approach claims in varied ways. Settlement offers can differ significantly from one insurance company to another. Despite this variability, certain factors are generally taken into account by insurance companies during the negotiation of a settlement, including:
- The type and severity of injuries sustained by the drunk driving victims.
- Whether the injuries are deemed permanent.
- The force of the collision.
- The extent to which the victim may share partial fault or negligence in the incident.
- The amount of insurance coverage held by the drunk driver.
These factors play a crucial role in shaping the negotiation process and determining the final settlement amount in a drunk driving accident case.
The average drunk driving accident settlement in California typically ranges from approximately $50,000 to $100,000. The reason this average varies so much is because of how serious the nature of these injuries can be. Settlements involving minor injuries will likely settle between $20,000-$50,000.
If a drunk driver caused your accident, it is well within your rights to bring a civil negligence lawsuit against the driver to recover for injuries sustained in your accident. Recovering compensation after an accident might involve an insurance claim, lawsuit, or the liable party paying you out of pocket.
If you have recently been arrested or charged with a DUI in California, you must get in contact with an attorney who can help you fight or reduce the charges.