Orange County Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers
Alcohol-impaired drivers are not only breaking the law, but they are also putting the lives of others on the roadways at risk. While a person convicted of DUI may be subject to severe penalties in California, that does not help the victims recover from their injuries and get their lives back. If you have been hurt or lost a loved one in a traffic accident caused by a drunk driver, you are entitled to pursue compensation for your losses.
We at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie have seen firsthand just how devastating car accidents, especially those caused by drunk drivers, can be. They leave injury, pain and suffering, and psychological trauma in their wake. If you or a loved one have been a victim in a drunk driving accident, you are likely feeling frightened, confused, and stressed. Filing a claim and facing a legal battle may be the last thing on your mind. But our attorneys have years of experience, and have gone to bat for our clients countless times before. Don’t hesitate to contact us at (949) 752-7474 to find out how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Under state law, motorists are prohibited from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher. For underage drivers, the “zero tolerance” BAC limit is .02%, meaning that drivers under the age of 21 cannot drive after having any alcoholic beverages. On top of that, a DUI is aggravated, with enhanced penalties, for drivers with a BAC of .16%.
All drivers should be aware that California has implied consent laws that require anyone arrested for driving under the influence to submit to BAC testing, which may be done as a blood or a breath test. Refusing these tests is illegal and can result in harsh punishments. Penalties for a first-offense DUI may include jail time, fines, license suspension, and an ignition interlock device. However, these penalties can increase in severity with each new DUI conviction.
DUI is a criminal offense. A person who is arrested and charged may be tried in criminal court and sentenced to jail time and other penalties upon conviction. The main purpose of the prosecution is to punish the drunk driver for breaking the law, and make sure that they are no longer a danger to the community at large.
In addition to any criminal penalties imposed on a drunk driver who causes an accident, victims have a right to pursue compensation in civil court. A criminal trial for DUI and a civil trial to recover damages for injuries caused by a drunk are two completely separate actions. However, it will help your civil claim for compensation if the driver who caused your injuries has been convicted of driving under the influence at the time of the crash. To prevail in a civil drunk driving accident claim, you must show that: the driver had a legal duty to exercise care, the driver breached that duty (by driving alcohol impaired), the driver’s breach of duty was the cause of your accident and injuries, and you suffered damages as a result.
Alcohol has a serious impact on the brain’s ability to function. At a party with friends, these impacts won’t have too much of a negative effect. However, if one person decides to drive himself home that night, then the side effects of alcohol consumption can lead to serious consequences. Some of the negative effects of alcohol include:
Double and blurred vision: Alcohol impacts a person’s ability to see properly, making their vision blurry or even doubled. This makes it difficult to see the road, the lane markers, other cars, traffic lights, and signs. Which in turn makes it next to impossible to drive safely.
Difficulties concentrating: When someone gets behind the wheel, he needs to be able to concentrate on the road and on any nearby traffic. However, alcohol can shorten a person’s attention span, making it difficult for drivers to pay attention to the act of driving.
Less rection time: When you are on the road, you are always prepared to react to sudden stops in traffic, other drivers merging into your lane, or pedestrians crossing the street. Your ability to do so relies on your quick reaction time. Alcohol, however, lengthens reaction time in drivers, meaning that a drunk driver is unable to swerve or hit the brakes to avoid an accident.
Lack of coordination: If you have ever seen a stumbling drunk, then you know full well that people who have had too much to drink are not stable on their feet. This lack of coordination carries over to driving, causing drunk drivers to swerve dangerously while on the road, making it near impossible for them to stay in their lane.
Impaired judgment: A person’s ability to make sound and responsible decisions can be inhibited by alcohol – which is exactly why anyone decides to get behind the wheel drunk in the first place. Without the ability to make the right judgment calls, many drunk drivers crash and flee the scene.
With all this working against them, it is no wonder that drunk drivers are such a danger on the road. Possibly the greatest danger is their lack of reaction time. Your reaction time is what allows you to hit your brakes or change direction before colliding with a pedestrian or another car on the road. If that ability is stripped away by alcohol, then a driver is not able to slow down before impact. This means that most drunk-driver-caused collisions will be high-speed, and thus high force. This will result in severe injuries and could even be fatal.
Car accidents are always devastating. When two 3,000 pound objects slam into each other, catastrophe ensues. This means anyone in or around the vehicles during an accident are at risk for serious bodily harm. However, when a drunk driver who can’t react to oncoming traffic is the cause, these accidents become even worse. Drunk drivers often go too fast, meaning their collisions involve high levels of force, leading to absolutely debilitating injuries, including:
- Broken bones
- Crush injuries
- Road rash
- Nerve damage
- Brain injuries
- Organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Limb loss
- Deep lacerations
- Severe burns
- Spinal cord injuries
After suffering such catastrophic injuries, you could be left with high medical debt and little funding. The same could be said if you tragically lost a loved one to a drunk driver. Thankfully, you have the option to file a personal injury claim if you were the one injured, or a wrongful death claim if your loved one passed. Filing a claim allows you receive proper compensation for the damages that you suffered.
Filing a claim not only allows you to hold the at-fault party liable, but it also helps you recover financially after your accident. If you have been injured in an automobile accident caused by a drunk driver, damages you are entitled to claim will depend on the specific circumstances surrounding your case, including the nature and severity of your injuries. However, generally speaking, you can claim for:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages or earnings
- Loss of earning capacity
- Temporary or permanent disability
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Psychological distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Punitive damages, designed to punish the drunk driver for wrongdoing, and to deter similar actions in the future
If you have lost a loved one to a drunk driver and are filing a wrongful death claim, then you can file for additional damages such as funeral expenses, loss of benefits, and loss of companionship. However, whichever claim you are filing, you are unlikely to get proper compensation unless you are working with an experienced DUI victim’s attorney.
After a serious accident caused by a drunk driver, the best way to hold that driver accountable is to file a claim with an experienced attorney by your side. Our Orange County auto accident lawyers at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie have been working to help the people of Orange County since 1974. We have a successful track record, recovering hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients. We offer a free initial consultation with no time limits or restrictions, and we work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay us no fees until we win a recovery for you. Contact us at (949) 752-7474 if you have been hurt in a drunk driving accident.
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