Drunk driving accidents are a serious problem in California, and they can have devastating consequences for victims and their families. If you have been involved in a drunk driving accident in California, it is important to understand your legal options. In this article, we will provide an overview of your legal options after a California drunk driving accident and explain how you can pursue compensation for your injuries.
Overview of California Law on Drunk Driving Accidents
In California, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. (Veh. Code, § 23152(b).) If you are convicted of drunk driving, you may face criminal penalties including fines, jail time, and license suspension. (Veh. Code, § 23550 et seq.)
In addition to criminal penalties, drunk drivers may also be held civilly liable for any injuries or damages they cause in an accident. Civil liability is based on the legal concept of negligence, which occurs when a person fails to act with reasonable care and causes harm as a result. In the context of a drunk driving accident, the drunk driver may be found negligent if they were driving while intoxicated and caused an accident that resulted in injuries to someone else.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident in California and you believe that the drunk driver was negligent, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages. In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is two years from the date of the accident. (Code Civ. Proc., § 335.1.) This means that you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. If you miss this deadline, you may be barred from recovering damages.
To prove negligence in a personal injury lawsuit, you must be able to show that the drunk driver owed you a duty of care, that they breached this duty, and that their breach caused your injuries. You will need to present evidence to support these elements of your case, such as the police report, witness testimony, and medical records.
Other Legal Options for Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents
In addition to filing a personal injury lawsuit, there are other legal options available to victims of drunk driving accidents in California. One option is to pursue a claim through the drunk driver’s insurance policy. Many car insurance policies cover accidents caused by drunk drivers, and you may be able to recover damages through this avenue.
If a loved one was killed in a drunk driving accident, you may be able to recover damages through a wrongful death lawsuit. In California, a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate, and it allows the estate to seek damages for the economic and noneconomic losses suffered as a result of the death. (Code Civ. Proc., § 377.60 et seq.)
Another potential legal option for victims of drunk driving accidents in California is to pursue a claim based on dram shop liability. Dram shop liability refers to the legal responsibility of a bar or restaurant that serves alcohol to a person who later causes an accident while intoxicated. In California, a bar or restaurant can be held liable for damages if it served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person and the person caused an accident as a result. (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 25602.)
Resources and Services for Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents
If you have been involved in a drunk driving accident in California, you may be eligible for certain resources and services to help you cope with the aftermath of the accident. These may include victim’s assistance programs, which provide support and resources to victims of crime, and support groups, which can provide a sense of community and emotional support. In addition, you may be able to seek counseling or therapy to help you cope with the trauma of the accident.
Contact Anderson Franco If You Need Legal Representation
Drunk driving accidents can have serious and lasting consequences for victims and their families. If you have been involved in a drunk driving accident in California, it is important to understand your legal options. You may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit, pursue a claim through the drunk driver’s insurance policy, or seek damages through a wrongful death lawsuit or dram shop liability claim. It is advisable to seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney to help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights.