Personal Injury Law Blog

I Was Hit by a Drunk Driver in California. What Now?

We all know that people who drink and get behind the wheel are more likely to cause accidents than sober drivers. Due to delayed reaction times and impaired judgment by drunk drivers, people usually suffer severe injuries and damages resulting from drunk driving collisions.

For those involved in such a traumatic event, the aftermath can leave you reeling. While fighting to recover from your injuries, you may also face mounting financial burdens because you are unable to work while you recuperate.

If you were hit by a drunk driver, you have a right to file a lawsuit in California. It’s important to reach out to a qualified personal injury attorney to discuss compensation after being hit by a drunk driver. 

What Is the Legal Limit for Driving Under the Influence?

California law sets the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for most adult drivers at 0.08%. However, different types of drivers are subject to different BAC limits: 

  • Adult drivers: 0.08%
  • Commercial drivers: 0.04%
  • Taxi, limo, and ride-sharing drivers: 0.04%
  • Drivers under 21 years old: 0.01%
  • Drivers on DUI probation: 0.01%

But be aware that a person may be guilty of a DUI if they are found to be under the influence without reaching these BACs. A person is considered under the influence if, due to the use of alcohol or drugs, the person can no longer drive as well as a sober person. 

After you’ve been hit by a drunk driver, pursuing a settlement requires the assistance of an experienced attorney. Your attorney works to preserve your rights while pursuing just compensation for your injuries. 

I Was Hit By a Drunk Driver, Can I Sue?

When you file a compensation claim, you file it with the other driver’s insurance company. The drunk driver’s insurance company then provides you with compensation for your injuries and damages. However, if the drunk driver’s insurance fails to adequately cover your damages, you may file a lawsuit against the driver. 

What Compensation Can I Recover After Being Hit by a Drunk Driver?

You may understandably wonder how much money you can get if you get hit by a drunk driver. You may be suffering from severe injuries and substantial property damage. When you are hit by a drunk driver, you have a right to file a lawsuit in California to recover your losses. The type of compensation you may recover for being hit by a drunk driver includes economic and non-economic damages. 

Economic Damages 

Quantifiable, calculable losses recoverable after you were hit by a drunk driver in a settlement are identified as economic damages. These damages include:

  • Medical expenses, 
  • Lost wages, and
  • Property damage. 

Maintain all records of expenses, hospital bills, and other receipts to accurately calculate your economic damages after a car accident. Your personal injury attorney uses this evidence to support your compensation claim.

Non-Economic Damages 

Non-economic losses are subjective in value and do not have a set dollar amount attached to them. These damages reflect the harm done to the quality of your life:

  • Pain and suffering,
  • Emotional distress, 
  • Loss of enjoyment and life, 
  • Disfigurement and disability, and
  • Loss of consortium.

Factors affecting the value of non-economic damages are the extent to which your injuries affect your daily life: 

  • The permanence of your injury, 
  • The severity of your injury, 
  • Emotional trauma, and
  • The negative impact of the injury on your everyday life.

It’s important to note that the defendant does not need to be charged with a DUI before you file your lawsuit.   

If a Family Member Was Hit by a Drunk Driver, What Can the Family Receive in a Settlement? 

If you lost a loved one due to the actions of a drunk driver, you may be entitled to recover compensation. Losing a loved one due to the negligent and avoidable acts of another understandably leaves you overwhelmed. Compensation will never replace your loss. However, pursuing a lawsuit against the drunk driver may ease any financial burden you and your family are experiencing.

Wrongful Death

California law permits certain people to file wrongful death lawsuits when they lose a loved one. Those with legal standing to file a wrongful death claim after someone is hit and killed by a drunk driver include the following persons: 

  • Spouse,
  • Domestic partner,
  • Children, 
  • Grandchildren, 
  • Parents or siblings if there are no surviving children or living spouses,
  • Financially dependent stepchildren and minor children, 
  • Other parties that may inherit under California’s laws of intestate succession. 

A wrongful death claim provides recovery for the family’s losses. The types of recoverable losses under a wrongful death claim include: 

  • Medical expenses for care before death,
  • Funeral expenses, 
  • Lost income, 
  • Value of household services, 
  • Anticipated financial support, 
  • Loss of affection and guidance.

Pursuing a wrongful death claim requires the assistance of a qualified attorney. These claims represent an exceptionally complex area of law that a grieving family member is probably in no position to take on alone. Maximize your recovery and secure a path toward healing by retaining an attorney to represent you on these types of claims. 

Survivor Action

In a survivor action, plaintiffs recover damages that their loved one would be entitled to had they lived. These damages include:

  • Medical expenses and
  • Lost wages.

Survival actions in California don’t permit recovery for pain and suffering. However, punitive damages may be recoverable. Discuss your options with your personal injury attorney about what damages you may pursue in a survivor action after you lost a loved one who was hit by a drunk driver. 

Contact Us

For over 50 years, attorneys Joshua Glotzer and Daniel Leib of Glotzer & Leib, LLP, have worked to empower their clients in the toughest of times. We are passionate about holding negligent people responsible for the damage they cause to others.

If you were hit by a drunk driver, you deserve to recover compensation for your losses. No one should be left to deal with the physical and financial aftermath of a devastating car accident, especially one due to the irresponsible actions of another. Contact the attorneys at Glotzer & Leib today for a free case evaluation.

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