Drunk driving accidents needlessly cause thousands of injuries each year in California and throughout the United States. According to one study, alcohol was responsible for more than half of traffic fatalities in California. Indeed, that same year, more than 33,000 people were injured in auto accidents caused by drunk drivers. If you or someone you know was injured or killed in a vehicle accident and one or more of the drivers was intoxicated, speak to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
In California, driving with a blood alcohol content (“BAC”) of .08% or greater is illegal. Most of the time, depending on a person’s weight, a person drinks more than they think they have and reaches that illegal limit quickly — and still gets behind the wheel. Federal statistics for fatal car accidents from 1994 through 2008 shows that even a small amount of alcohol (.01%) in the bloodstream, or half a beer, can increase accident severity significantly. The study found that even where people consumed a low level of alcohol and considered themselves “buzzed,” accidents were more severe. The more alcohol in the bloodstream, the faster the drivers went. And, these drivers were more likely to hit another vehicle and were less likely to wear a seat belt.
While offenders are often charged by district attorneys in criminal courts, victims may also pursue civil remedies for injuries or damages following auto accidents. A DUI conviction makes it easier to prove a driver was negligent and hold the driver accountable for injuries suffered following an accident. An auto accident attorney can help you determine whether you might be entitled to recover compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, loss of income, and, possibly, loss of enjoyment of life or loss of consortium.
A knowledgeable drunk driving accident attorney in Woodland Hills can also advise whether to seek punitive damages. These are damages that can significantly increase the amount of compensation a victim receives, and the damages are designed to financially punish or make an example of the driver who caused the accident. If you have been injured and speak with the insurance adjuster right away, this could affect your chances for recovery — the insurance company has an interest in paying you as little as possible to settle your claims.
Once you have been evaluated by a doctor, your attorney will review police accident reports and any photographs that may have been taken. Your attorney will also review your doctor’s medical evaluation report and possibly consult with a medical expert. Reconstructing the scene, based on your memories and those of other witnesses, is also a key step. Your attorney will analyze road and weather conditions as well as other conditions, such as whether the driver was coming from a bar or party (and was likely to be drinking) before being involved in the accident.
For more information on how to sue a drunk driver who injured you or a loved one in a car accident, contact Woodland Hills accident attorney Barry P. Goldberg today.