Drunk Driving Accident Attorney in West Los Angeles
Every day across the country, 27 people are killed as a result of drunk driving accidents with more than 10,200 killed per year and another 290,000 injured by drunk drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were almost 10,000 alcohol-related driving deaths in the country accounting for one-third of all traffic fatalities. About 9% of those fatal accidents occurred in California.
While the criminal court system can punish an intoxicated driver who causes an accident, the criminal system does nothing to compensate victims of the accident. Civil law allows accident victims to file personal injury lawsuits against drunk drivers to recover compensatory damages for medical expenses and pain and suffering as well as punitive damages to punish the driver for reckless behavior. California law also allows other responsible parties to be held liable for the accident. This may include the person or business that furnished the alcohol or the driver’s employer, if the driver was on the job.
If you or someone you love has been hurt in an accident involving a drunk driver, a Los Angeles drunk driving accident lawyer can help you protect your rights and hold the responsible party accountable for your damages.
Who Can Be Sued in a Drunk Driving Case?
Depending on the nature of your accident, the drunk driver may not be the sole party responsible for the accident. This is important to understand as many drivers do not carry California-mandated liability insurance or maintain the bare minimum insurance which is not enough to cover the damages in most accidents, especially if the accident results in serious injury.
The following parties may be sued in an accident involving a driver who is intoxicated:
- The driver. The drunk driver can always be sued if the driver was at least partially responsible for the accident.
- An employer. If the drunk driver was driving within the scope of their employment when the accident occurred, the employer may be found liable for injuries or death that result from the driver’s negligence. An employer or anyone who provides a vehicle to someone who is known to be under the influence and impaired can be found personally negligent and legally responsible for injuries and damages that result from the drunk driver’s negligence.
- Someone who provided the vehicle to the driver. If someone entrusts a vehicle to someone they know is under the influence, they can be found directly negligent for any accident in which the drunk driver is involved, sometimes even if the drunk driver is not at fault for the traffic accident.
- Rental car companies. Rental car companies are only held liable if they had knowledge the driver was unfit to drive when they rented the vehicle.
- Someone who offers the drunk driver “substantial encouragement.” Someone who encourages the drunk driver can be found liable for the accident if it can be established that there was “concerted action” between the other person and the drunk driver.
- Manufacturer of the vehicle if components of the vehicle failed and contributed to the accident or injuries.
- Owner or possessor of a roadway if the accident occurred due to dangerous conditions.
Proving a Drunk Driver is Liable for Damages
Under California law, there is a presumption of negligence when someone is in an accident while driving under the influence of alcohol. This means the drunk driver is assumed to be negligent in the accident. Still, it must be shown that the driver was impaired from the alcohol and could not drive with reasonable skill and care.
Many factors will be considered in determining whether the driver was under the influence such as:
- The number of drinks consumed
- Time after alcohol was consumed that the accident occurred
- Driver’s appearance and conduct according to witnesses
- Odor of alcohol described by witnesses
- Measured blood alcohol content (BAC)
- Expert opinion on the effect of the BAC
- DUI conviction
Compensation for Victims in a Drunk Driving Accident in LA
California law allows victims in drunk driving crashes to recover financial damages for their injuries and other damages the driver caused. A verdict or settlement for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in a drunk driving case may include compensation for:
- Medical expenses, both current and future
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship and guidance
- Property damage
- Punitive damages
Contact a Los Angeles Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
If you have been hurt in a traffic accident that was caused by a drunk driver, it’s important to seek legal counsel from an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights. The drunk driver’s insurance company may offer you a settlement in exchange for dropping claims you may have against the driver, but it’s important to discuss this with your attorney first to protect your best interests. Contact Soliman Law Group for a free consultation with a West Los Angeles drunk driving lawyer to review your potential claim and discuss whether a personal injury lawsuit against the driver is in your best interest.