Unfortunately, drunk driving is no foreign issue to California. In 2009, the CHP reported that there had been more than 18,000 alcohol-related accidents. According to the FBI, in 2010, over 1.41 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. And according to information released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost every 90 seconds, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash.When a driver slips behind a wheel intoxicated or on drugs, an accident is bound to happen, as he/she is significantly impaired. Being intoxicated slows down one’s reaction time, makes it difficult to judge speed and the other vehicles around you, impairs your vision and hearing, affects your coordination and often gives a false sense of confidence.
Fighting for Damages
In California, it is a crime to operate a vehicle with a BAC level of .08 or higher. If the driver that crashed into you was intoxicated, you could be entitled to both compensatory and punitive damages. In the wake of a DUI accident where you sustained injuries, you should be able to be compensated for lost wages, mental stress, pain and suffering and loss of relations and funeral costs, when applicable (see wrongful death).
Punitive damages are damages that are awarded to punish the defendant and to discourage the defendant from committing the same act in the future (you can normally receive punitive damages when a defendant was legally intoxicated).
Proving that a Driver was Negligent
Before collecting damages, you have to prove that a driver was acting recklessly and negligently. To establish this, you must be able to show the following:
- That the driver drank to the point of intoxication, knowing that he/she would be driving
- That the driver was aware of the probable consequences
- The driver willfully and deliberately failed to avoid those consequences
Every motorist has a duty of care to other drivers on the road (and any pedestrians they may encounter) and is expected to drive carefully and attentively. When an individual makes plans to attend a party or bar and get drunk, he/she can plan accordingly and take public transportation back home or have a friend come pick them up.
While it might seem easy to prove that a driver had a conscious disregard for the safety of others, insurance companies and criminal defense attorneys can make this process more difficult than it might initially seem.
The good news is that unlike a criminal drunk driving charge, a claimant in a civil suit need only show that the defendant was drunk to the point of being civilly negligent. In other words, an injured party’s burden of proof is much lighter. Nonetheless, in order to successfully prove that a defendant was negligent and that you were injured as a result of his/her negligence, it is advised that you secure the legal assistance of a competent San Jose personal injury attorney on your side.
Why should you hire a personal injury lawyer?
When you are looking to secure an aggressive legal advocate in your corner, why should you consider hiring Shea & Shea – A Professional Law Corporation? Attorney Michael M. Shea is a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum®. This means that Mr. Shea has successfully recovered millions of dollars’ worth of verdicts and settlements on the behalf of his clients. Shea & Shea – A Professional Law Corporation has also earned an AV® peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell®, which means that it is a leader in the field of legal excellence.
Perhaps the best qualifications of all- the firm has over 50 years of experience and has received the glowing testimonials of clients throughout the years. Read what past clients have to say about the firm. If you need more convincing, contact a San Jose drunk driving accident lawyer and set up a free case evaluation today. We would be happy to discuss with you the details of your case and inform you of all the ways we can assist you.