There is no excuse for getting drunk and then getting behind the wheel. California law makes it clear that drunk drivers can – and should – be held liable when they cause serious and fatal accidents. However, simply knowing that the other driver was drunk is not enough to establish a claim for liability.
You need evidence in order to build your claim. An experienced attorney can gather evidence of a Bakersfield drunk driving accident and pursue compensation on your behalf.
The 3 Major Stages of Building a Drunk Driving Accident Claim
The process of building a drunk driving accident claim can be broken down into three major steps:
- Conducting an investigation
- Proving fault
- Proving damages
At The Law Offices of Mickey Fine, we bring decades of experience helping the victims of drunk drivers and their families recover compensation for the losses they suffer due to the negligence of intoxicated drivers. We rely on this experience at every stage of the process of building claims on behalf of our clients.
1. Conducting an Investigation
If the driver was cited or arrested for DUI, and ultimately convicted or pleaded guilty to the charge, this does not automatically entitle you to compensation. So, as with any auto accident, a comprehensive investigation is the first step in taking legal action against a drunk driver.
Your attorney will collect evidence at the scene and from other sources in order to build your claim. Some examples of the types of evidence that can be used to build a drunk driving accident claim include:
- The police report
- Eyewitness testimony
- Video footage of the accident
- Forensic evidence (i.e., an open container)
- Testimony from a bartender who served the driver
- The drunk driver’s own testimony or social media posts
The driver does not need to be over the legal limit for you to have a viable drunk driving accident claim. Alcohol impairs the ability to drive safely. Combine this with the likelihood of the drunk driver performing any number of careless actions – from running a red light to speeding – and you have multiple options for arguing that the driver’s negligence caused your injuries.
If you are concerned because the other driver did not receive a DUI ticket and there were no other witnesses to the accident, it is still very possible that you can pursue a claim for damages.
2. Proving That the Drunk Driver Caused the Accident
After collecting evidence, your attorney may hire one or more experts to help prove that the negligence of the drunk driver caused your injuries or your loved one’s death. For example, it is fairly common for lawyers to engage accident reconstructionists to assist in building claims for liability.
Accident reconstructionists are experts who take the available evidence, analyze it, and use it to build a computer rendering of the events that led up to and transpired during a crash. Accident reconstructionists’ computer renderings may be introduced as evidence in court, and they can carry significant weight in insurance settlement negotiations as well.
3. Proving the Extent of Your (and/or Your Family’s) Losses
In addition to proving that the drunk driver is liable, you also need to prove how much you are entitled to recover. Your lawyer may engage medical and economic experts to assess your injuries and calculate the losses you and your family have sustained. This type of testimony is crucial for determining the compensation to which you may be entitled.
The financial compensation that is recoverable in a drunk driving accident case is entirely dependent upon the victim’s (and/or the victim’s family’s) losses. The damages awarded in non-fatal accident cases differ from those awarded in cases of wrongful death.
In cases of serious injury or death, these compensatory damages are based on the actual losses incurred (or that will be incurred in the future). Economic damages may include medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and more.
You and your loved ones may also be entitled to compensation for non-economic damages. These damages, which may include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and more, are intended to offset the negative effects on your life that don’t have a clear monetary value.
In some drunk driving cases, punitive damages may be available as well. Pursuing punitive damages requires evidence above and beyond that required to secure just compensation for economic and non-economic losses.
Read More: Recovering Damages in a Personal Injury Case.
Contact an Attorney After a Bakersfield Drunk Driving Accident
Drunk driving accident claims demand serious representation. You and your family may be entitled to significant compensation, but you need an experienced lawyer to build a strong claim on your behalf.
The Law Offices of Mickey Fine has been serving clients in drunk driving accident claims and other motor vehicle accident cases for over 37 years. Please call (661) 333-3333 today for a free case review in or around Bakersfield.