Driving under the influence (DUI) is still the #1 cause of death on our roadways, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
People who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs are more likely to cause accidents that are often more serious with more severe injuries because their judgment and reaction time is impaired. While the criminal court system can punish a drunk driver for the accident, it does not compensate the victims of the accident.
Drunk Driving Civil Lawsuit
If you have been a victim of a drunk driving accident, you have the right to pursue claims in civil court to recover monetary damages, in addition to pressing criminal charges. Even if the drunk driver is not convicted in criminal court, you may still seek compensation through a civil claim. While serious compensation will not make up for the physical and emotional costs that a drunk driving accident victim endures, it can make it easier for the person to start putting back together the pieces of their life. Financial compensation can be pursued for:
- Medical bills and ongoing healthcare needs related to the accident
- Pain and suffering from the accident
- Lost wages as a result of missed work
- Property damage to the car that was damaged or destroyed in the accident
- Modifications to a home or car because of the injuries incurred from the accident
- Punitive damages – intended to punish the negligent party and discourage similar negligent behavior by others
If the claim is for wrongful death, you may be able to collect damages for loss of future income, loss of consortium, and funeral expenses.
What if the Drunk Driver Has No Insurance?
Most car insurance companies offer uninsured motorist (UM) coverage so if you are involved in an accident with someone who is uninsured, you can make a claim with your insurance company to be compensated for your medical care, pain and suffering, and lost wages. However, once you file a claim, your insurance company will view you as a liability, instead of as a customer, and they will do everything in their power to minimize or avoid paying out your claim (learn more about dealing with insurance companies and Uninsured Motorist coverage here).
Another option may be to sue the drunk driver but if the judgment is returned in your favor the defendant may declare bankruptcy which means they’re not responsible for paying the judgment or they may have no money to pay the judgment. Suing the driver can be a long process that may not amount to any compensation.
A third option may be suing a third party such as a restaurant that continued to serve a customer who was already drunk or a bar that served a minor.
Third-Party Liability in a DUI Accident
While the person who was driving under the influence may be the primary cause of the accident, there could be liability for third parties who contributed to the circumstances of the driver. Third parties that may be held responsible can include:
- Bar or Restaurant Staff & Owners: it is their responsibility to stop serving patrons that appear to be intoxicated.
- Hosts: people who host parties or gatherings where alcohol is served can be held liable if they continued to provide alcohol to a guest that was clearly inebriated.
Determining third party liability can be complex and involving an experienced lawyer in representing DUI accident victims is highly recommended.
We Represent DUI Accident Victims in Kern County and California
At Rodriguez & Associates, our experienced personal injury attorneys are ready to represent you or a loved one who has been injured as a result of a DUI accident. We have the resources to fully investigate the accident, contributing factors, and can determine if there is third party liability. Our Kern County lawyers are caring and empathetic with our clients and will do everything possible to hold the wrongdoer accountable.
We represent DUI accident victims in Kern County and throughout California. Call us to request a free consultation at (661) 323-1400 or toll-free (800) 585-9262.