Everyone knows that drunk driving kills. Yet, every day, in cities across California, intoxicated drivers get behind the wheel and place everyone on the road at risk. If you were injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, Our Bakersfield drunk driving accident lawyers can help you hold the drunk driver accountable for your damages.
The best way to learn about your rights and options is to speak with Mr. Fine in person. Please call to arrange your free consultation with our Bakersfield car accident lawyer.
In 2012, the latest year for which data are available, 803 drivers died on California roads. That works out to just over two deaths per 100,000 residents. While that number might not seem that high, more than 70 percent of those fatalities involved drunk drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or higher or more than twice the legal limit.
What’s especially disheartening, though, is that nearly 4 out of 5 high BAC drunk drivers were repeat offenders. That’s right, 80 percent of drunk drivers who were involved in a lethal car accident and blew a 0.15 or higher had already been in the system before for drunk driving.
The Hazards of Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence of alcohol can create serious risks for others on the road. Alcohol slows reaction time, impairs concentration and critical thinking, and can cause inhibit drivers from using the fine motor skills and good judgment that allow us to operate a motor vehicle safely under normal circumstances. Intoxicated drivers also commonly engage in other negligent behaviors that can cause auto accidents, such as reckless and distracted driving. Children are especially at risk of injury or fatality in drunk driving crashes; approximately 1 in 5 passenger child deaths in fatal car accidents is due to an intoxicated driver.
In California, DUI laws may also apply to other substances that might impair a driver from operating a vehicle safely, such as drugs (both prescription and illegal) and certain medications that cause drowsiness and lack of concentration.
Drunk Driving Causes Lasting Damage
These accidents affect countless individuals in untold ways and can bring financial burdens, pain, and grief to their victims. Many are left with serious injuries, including spine and neck injuries, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, burns, and even permanent disability. Severe physical harm could require that an injured person receives long-term rehabilitation or even assistive care for the duration of his or her life.
A serious car accident can sometimes also take lives. If someone you love was taken from you in a fatal drunk-driving auto accident, you might be able to pursue additional compensation on their behalf.
Regardless of what damages you sustained due to a collision, the drunk driving accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Mickey Fine can help you determine what legal pathways are available to you. We are available to support you and help you obtain additional compensation following a California drunk driving accident.
Legal Consequences of Drunk Driving in California
A driver involved in a DUI accident could face serious repercussions for years to come. Drivers convicted of motor vehicle accidents involving an excessive blood alcohol content level may serve up to 6 months in jail and pay fines of up to $1,000 for first-time offenses. A drunk driver’s vehicle may also be impounded.
A first-time offender will also have their driver’s license revoked for six months and be required to take a DUI program. Repeat offenders and those convicted with higher BAC levels (0.15-0.20%) may face longer sentences and suspensions. A drunk driving collision involving serious injury or wrongful death may additionally open up the possibility of a civil lawsuit or even criminal charges.
Civil vs. Criminal Charges
There are critical differences between the two types, but these proceedings usually overlap. In the case of a criminal DUI, arrests and gathering and presenting the evidence are the main elements.
In the state of California, intoxicated driving is considered a misdemeanor. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that every case involving a drunk driver will go to trial, nor does it mean that a criminal case needs to be won for you to pursue damages from the at-fault party. In fact, most drunk driving claims resolve out of court.
Drunk driving accident victims can pursue compensation through a personal injury claim without a guilty conviction of the driver that caused their injuries. Our Bakersfield car accident lawyers have vast experience both in and out of the courtroom in dealing with DUI accidents. Car accident attorney Mickey Fine will use his first-hand legal knowledge to help you understand the proceedings of your personal injury claim and help you achieve a positive resolution to the fullest extent possible.
What to Do After a Drunk Driving Accident
Following a drunk driving accident, you’ll want to ensure that you take the proper steps to ensure your physical recovery and legal right to compensation. You will likely have had to follow certain proceedings at the accident scene, including exchanging insurance information with the other driver, talking to police officers and emergency medical personnel, and adjusters from the insurance company. Try to ensure that in your communications with these parties, you avoid doing anything to suggest that you were at fault for the accident.
If your condition allows you to, taking photos as evidence of the accident can help your claim further down the line. However, most importantly, you’ll want to take care to receive prompt medical attention and that you comply with your healthcare provider’s recommendations to benefit your chances of making a proper recovery.
Accidents caused by automobiles may lead to multiple damages. Sometimes, the injury is not apparent immediately. It is advisable to get rehabilitative treatment within one week if you’re involved in an auto collision in California — even if you feel fine.
As soon as you’re able to, you should consult a DUI accident attorney to discuss your rights to obtain compensation for your injuries and other damages incurred from the accident. Personal injury lawyer Mickey Fine will see to it that you have everything you need to file a car accident claim and make it his obligation to acquire any information or evidence that may be necessary to support your case. Your primary responsibility after a drunk driving crash is to focus on your recovery; Mickey Fine will handle the rest.
Comparative Fault and California Drunk Driving Accidents
Unlike no-fault states, there’s virtually no limit to your ability to pursue damages from a drunk driver. The only significant barrier to getting everything you deserve is Proposition 213, which limits how much you can recover if you, yourself, are uninsured. If you are driving an uninsured vehicle when a drunk driver causes you harm, the courts will try to limit your damages to such quantifiable losses as medical expenses, lost wages, and property damages. But trust Mickey Fine to pursue your case as far as is necessary to get you everything you deserve.
Recovering Damages from a Drunk Driver
Remember that while drunk drivers are likely to face criminal charges, it’s up to you to seek compensation in a civil court. That means you need to file a lawsuit separately from any criminal proceedings. Most of the time, this will take the form of a personal injury lawsuit.
What Kinds of Damages Can I Recover?
Your DUI accident lawyer will work to see that your losses are thoroughly accounted for and that their value is accurately represented. Recoverable items in a drunk driving accident case generally involve economic, non-economic, and sometimes punitive damages. Unless Prop 213 applies in your case, you may be entitled to a full range of economic and non-economic damages.
Lost wages and lost earning potential
Emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life
Pain and suffering
Loss of companionship and loss of consortium
In some cases, injured victims may also be eligible to collect punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. These are intended to deter the at-fault party from future behavior similar to that which caused the accident. These are awarded in car crashes in which impaired drivers were deemed to have acted with oppression, fraud, or malice.
Why Choose The Law Offices of Mickey Fine
Personal injury attorney Mickey Fine will take full responsibility for your claim’s success. Since 1989, people and families injured in car accidents have turned to Mr. Fine to get legal assistance. We are known for being industry experts in Bakersfield and greater Southern California. We have earned a solid reputation as a law firm that fights for the people and provides personalized attention and integrity to Bakersfield accident victims.
Finding a lawyer who deals with drunk driving accidents can be difficult, as not every law firm is equipped with enough money and resources to file a claim for these cases. When alcohol and drugs affect a driver’s ability to act reasonably, the victim and his or her family should seek compensation. A car wreck victim can face life-altering disruptions, stress, trauma, and financial struggles following an accident.
Our law firm understands that you may be experiencing pain and loss and that pursuing a personal injury case may seem daunting. However, you don’t have to go through it alone. Drunk driving accident attorney Mickey Fine is dedicated to providing aggressive legal representation to injured victims and seeing to it that they receive fair treatment and maximum compensation.
Commonly Asked Questions About Drunk Driving Accidents in Bakersfield, California
Who Will Pay for My Compensation in a Drunk Driving Accident Claim?
An accident victim will likely be able to receive a compensatory settlement from the at-fault party's insurance company. In the event of a criminal DUI case, a court may order the other driver to pay restitution damages to the victim. However, these damages are more limited in their scope than the damages that can be pursued through a personal injury claim, as they do not cover non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
How Much is my Drunk Driving Accident Claim Worth?
The value of your claim will depend on the severity of your losses. Severe injuries or a wrongful death claim will likely result in higher settlement amounts. Our experienced attorneys can help you understand what factors affect your claim's value and negotiate to get you maximum compensation.
How Long Will My Claim Take to Resolve?
Each case is unique, and some require different approaches to ensure a positive outcome. A skilled lawyer understands that the length of your case will depend on several variables and is able to prepare you for what you should expect. Your attorney will personally ensure that you are aware of any and all developments in your case and work to expedite its processes so that you can have the money you need to pay for your injuries as soon as possible.
Should I Accept a Settlement From My Insurance Company for a Drunk Driving Accident?
No, you should always consult with a drunk driving accident lawyer first. Without the legal counsel of a knowledgeable attorney, it's impossible to know that an insurance company's settlement offer is fair. Many times, it's not. You deserve to get the facts about your case before making a decision. If you've been in a motor vehicle accident, you should reach out to the Law Offices of Mickey Fine as soon as possible.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim for a Drunk Driving Accident?
As with other types of personal injury claims, the statute of limitations in California for drunk driving accidents is two years from the date of the accident. Your options may be severely limited if you attempt to file a claim after that time. For this reason, it's crucial that you speak with a car accident attorney like Mickey Fine as soon as possible after a drunk driving accident.