Drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs is an alarming national problem. The Center for Disease Control reports that almost 30 people a day die due to alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes: that’s over 10,000 people each year. In 2011, about 900 of these drunk driving fatalities occurred in California. Moreover, 32% of all car crashes in California for that year were alcohol-related.
Victims of drunk drivers, whether those who experienced a collision themselves or those who lost a family member at the hands of a drunk driver, are often understandably filled with rage and helplessness. It is infuriating that the carelessness or indifference of another person could completely change the course of so many lives.
The criminal prosecution of a drunk driver can provide some solace and sense of justice to victims and their families. However, a civil action against the driver can bring more practical benefits; particularly, compensation for financial losses incurred.
Financial losses can be exorbitantly high in the wake of a drunk driving accident. Injuries from such accidents may include broken bones, broken bones, facial disfigurement, brain damage, paralysis, internal organ damage, and death. Victims may have to undergo numerous surgeries, painful months of physical therapy, or require round-the-clock care just to maintain basic life functions.
Victims should not be made to pay for these expenses. Those responsible – the drunk driver and possibly others – should be held accountable.
Types of Damages For Victims of Drunk Driving
Drunk driving victims may be entitled to damages for:
- Property damage
- Medical expenses (past, ongoing and future)
- Lost wages and/or future employment capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Permanent disability
- Wrongful death
Drunk driving victims also may be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages are monetary awards intended to punish to the drunk driver and discourage him or her from driving under the influence in the future. In California, punitive damages may be applicable if the victim can prove that the drunk driver showed a conscious disregard for the safety of others by becoming intoxicated even while knowing that he or she would have to operate a motor vehicle afterwards.
How an Attorney Can Help Drunk Driving Victims
An experienced local lawyer can help you initiate a civil case against a drunk driver and fight for the maximum compensation you need and deserve. A skilled lawyer will thoroughly investigate the accident, gather and preserve evidence, and determine who should be held responsible for your injuries (sometimes third parties, such as tavern owners or social hosts may be liable as well).
If you have been injured by a drunk driver, call an experienced personal injury attorney for a consultation right away. Do not let too much time pass or you may miss your opportunity to file a lawsuit and seek compensation.
The California drunk driving victim attorneys at the Appel Law Firm LLP are dedicated to helping San Francisco Bay Area residents receive compensation for injuries and wrongful deaths arising from DUIs and DWI accidents.