Car Accidents Caused by Drunk Driving
The risks of drunk driving are well known. Unfortunately, despite these risks, many drivers get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that close to 30 people are killed in drunk-driving crashes each day in the United States.
Individuals who have been injured or lost a loved one as the result of a drunk driving accident have the right to take legal action. Irvine, CA, car accident attorneys Sean M. Burke and Jason N. Argos can help victims of car accidents caused by drunk driving collect maximum compensation for accident losses.
Drunk Driving and Accident Liability
Proving liability for a car accident can be complex. Drivers are often reluctant to admit fault in an accident, so a thorough investigation is required. Compared to many other types of accidents, determining liability for accidents involving drunk driving is more straighforward.
Drunk driving is considered a form of reckless driving, so an impaired driver will nearly always be held liable for a resulting accident. Even if a driver has a blood alcohol content that falls below the legal limit (.08 in the state of California), it can often be shown that alcohol consumption impaired the driver and caused the accident.
Civil vs. Criminal Penalties
Criminal penalties for drunk driving are harsh in the state of California. Drunk drivers face penalties that include fines, jail time, and license suspension. It is important for accident victims to understand that any criminal charges brought against drunk drivers are completely separate from civil court matters.
Even if a driver is found guilty of criminal drunk driving charges, the court will not order them to pay for accident damages. A separate civil case needs to be filed by accident victims. Similarly, if drunk driving charges are reduced or dismissed in criminal court, that doesn’t mean the driver cannot be held liable for accident damages in civil court.
Our attorneys are happy to provide legal representation in a civil hearing. We fight on behalf of our Irvine clients to seek just compensation for the full extent of accident losses. Damages in drunk accident cases are often severe, and may include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of wage-earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of benefits
- Loss of consortium
In addition to the damages that may be awarded in a typical personal injury case, our Irvine clients who are victims of car accidents caused by drunk driving may also be able to collect punitive damages. Punitive damages are unique from other types of damage because they are not intended as an award for the plaintiff’s losses. Instead, punitive damages serve more as a punishment for the defendant.
According to California Civil Code 3294, punitive damages can be awarded if the “defendant’s conduct amounted to malice, oppression, or fraud.” Historically, the court has found drunk driving to fall under these parameters.
If you are seeking compensation for damages stemming from a car accident caused by drunk driving, attorneys Sean M. Burke and Jason N. Argos would be happy to review your case. To schedule a legal consultation, contact us online at your earliest convenience or call (949) 438-4416.