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Drunk Driving Accidents

Drunk driving is considered a serious crime in California — with good reason, given the dangers associated with drinking and driving. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs represents a significant threat to the safety of all Californians.  According to a report from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV ), in 2015:

  • 1,144 people were killed in alcohol-related accidents
  • 25,152 were injured in alcohol-involved crashes
  • 831 people were killed in drug-involved accidents
  • 3,031 people were injured in crashes involving drugs

These numbers may surprise you — but they are even more shocking when viewed as a percentage of the total number of accidents in the state.

33.3% of all traffic fatalities in California in 2015 were related to drunk driving. An additional 24.2% of  accident fatalities were in drug-involved crashes.  9.9% of all injury accidents involved alcohol.

Without a doubt, drunk and drugged driving continues to be a major problem in California. Even if you make a smart choice, you cannot always protect yourself or your family from the negligence of others who choose to drive under the influence.

If you have been hurt in a California drunk driving accident, the Law Offices of Michael A. Kahn can help.  We work with clients in Los Angeles County and throughout the state, helping them get the compensation that they deserve for their injuries.

Who May Be Responsible for a California Drunk Driving Accident?

It may seem as though only one person can be liable for driving drunk: the driver.  Yet depending on the facts of the case, other parties may be held legally and financially responsible for a drunk driver.

First, the drivers themselves can be held liable for their own conduct.  They will typically be charged with a criminal offense, which will result in a range of penalties if they are convicted or plead guilty.  In addition, you may file a claim against their insurance company for your damages.

Second, if the driver was at a party where alcohol was served, the hosts may be liable for a drunk driving accident.  This is generally only an option in situations where it can be demonstrated that the host continued to serve alcohol to a guest (the driver) after they were clearly inebriated.

Third, bar or restaurant staff and owners may be responsible for drunk driving accidents.  They have a legal obligation to not serve guests who are already intoxicated.

Fourth, if the driver is an employee of a business and on the clock when the accident occurred, then the employer may be liable.  This claim is based on a theory of negligent hiring. If the employer had reason to believe that the employee was an unsafe driver (such as a history of DUIs), yet still hired the employee to drive for them, they may be held responsible for any accidents.

How a Lawyer Can Help in a Drunk Driving Accident Case

Drinking driving is a criminal offense, but if a person who drives drunk causes an accident, then it may also be grounds for a civil lawsuit.  In these situations, a personal injury attorney can work with you to protect your rights and represent your best interests.  You do not have to wait until the criminal trial has been resolved to file a claim or lawsuit if you have been injured or someone you love has been killed in a drunk driving accident.

As an initial matter, your lawyer can work to ensure that the criminal case is fully investigated and documented.  This is critical, as certain aspects of the criminal case may impact a civil recovery.  For example, if the drunk driver was driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the accident, they are subject to a different legal standard under the California Criminal Code — and you may be able to file a claim against their employer.

Beyond the criminal case, an attorney can analyze the facts of the case to put together a strong claim for damages.  In the typical car accident case, a victim is entitled to compensatory damages for losses such as past and future medical expenses, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, and pain and suffering.

In a drunk driving case, you may be able to recover punitive damages.  This type of damages is meant to punish wrongdoers and discourage others from engaging in similar conduct. Punitive damages are rarely available in personal injury cases, which are generally based on a theory of negligence.  However, drunk driving involves an element of recklessness, gross negligence or even intentional wrongdoing.  For that reason, punitive damages may be available if you were injured or if someone you loved died in a drunk driving accident.

Work with a California Drunk Driving Accident Attorney

When a drunk driver hits you, the results can be devastating.  A skilled lawyer can help you recover the compensation that you need in order to get your life back on track after this type of accident.  The Law Offices of Michael A. Kahn can help.  Contact us today at (310) 209-1600 or info@michaelkahnlaw.com to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our team.

Need Help? Call us anytime at (310) 209-1600