Drunk driving is a crime that can lead to some severe injuries for both the driver and those aggravated by his actions. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is just one of the many violations that can hold drivers criminally liable for accidents they would cause while driving intoxicated.
In California, it is illegal to operate a regular passenger vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher for individuals 21 years old or older. Anyone breaking that law or Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and causes an accident that results in injuries or death is held criminally responsible by the state for the actions and awards victims or their surviving family members proper compensation in civil court.
Victims or relatives trying to seek compensation or damages may do so through a variety of means via a personal injury lawsuit. In these situations, hiring accident attorneys is always the best option. To understand the importance of proper legal representation, knowing the complexities of a drunk driving accident case is a necessity. To start, we first have to question what types of damages victims can seek and how they can act on them.
What Types of Damages Can You Seek?
There are various types of damages victims may be able to claim in a personal injury lawsuit having suffered injuries from a DUI auto accident. While claims for medical bills garner most of the focus, other economic and non-economic damages that could be claimed should also be considered in these cases including lost wages or diminished employment opportunities, as well as pain and suffering.
Directly after a car accident, it is crucial to undergo a thorough medical examination, especially if you are feeling pain or have sustained injuries. Injuries from a drunk driving accident may range from injuries like minor cuts and bruises to more severe ones such as broken bones, paralysis, and traumatic brain injury. Some injuries might even result in permanent disability. The medical examination along with the corresponding treatments needed will undoubtedly result in expensive medical bills. Also, some expenses to be considered are the costs of ambulance transportation, rehabilitation, medication, medical equipment, and the like.
Upon the hiring of a personal injury attorney, the proper calculation of future costs of additional medical treatment or therapy you may need will also be done. Doctors, health professionals, and other experts can also help with these types of cost estimates.
When an intoxicated driver injures you, expenses from medical treatment care isn’t the only financial concern victims face, but also have to deal with lost income. Even with minor injuries, victims may not be able to return to work for several weeks or months.
For some injuries, victims may require extensive rehabilitation, hindering them from carrying out basic tasks such as being able to leave the house, driving, lifting objects or performing tasks in his or her job. All of this means that payslips may not arrive for a while and victims may have to depend on a disability income which means taking significant pay cuts.
For others, the injuries are so grave to the point that they may get laid off or may be physically unable to return to their job. This means moving to a different job where they may have to take a significantly large pay cut. In some scenarios, injured victims are rendered permanently disabled and therefore unable to earn a livelihood. In such cases, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you calculate lost future income and benefits after which you can seek the compensation you deserve.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering are legally defined as physical and emotional distress and are considered as “non-economic” damage due to its non-quantifiable nature. These damages are calculated based on the nature and extent of a victim’s injuries, the seriousness of pain experienced and prognosis for any future pain brought about by the accident.
In some cases, this also includes psychological and emotional trauma sustained from the accident. Chronic depression is a typical result of an accident as victims are unable to go back to the lives they led prior to the crash while some suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A competent California personal injury lawyer will once again be able to assess an individual’s situation and help determine how much compensation should be sought.
When the accident causes the death of someone, a wrongful death compensation may be sought by surviving spouses or the parents of the children who died in the accident. There are several ways to quantify wrongful death damages. Some of the factors used to calculate the damages are:
- Medical expenses before death
- Funeral costs
- Loss of projected earnings
- Loss of benefits
- Loss of household contributions
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Mental anxiety
- Loss companionship and parental guidance
Punitive damages are damages assessed by the court to punish the responsible party and are meant to punish the liable party and show that negligence behavior will not be tolerated. In the state of California, according to California Civil Code Section 3294, a plaintiff in a personal injury case may seek punitive damages only when the defendant is found guilty of “oppression, fraud or malice.” Furthermore, it states that an injured person can seek damages even if the conduct was either deliberate, negligent, or somewhere in between— even if the defendant’s action was not completely intentional.
Why You Should Seek Expert Legal Help for You Case
The process of seeking damages from drunk driving accidents is a tiresome and challenging process. To receive proper compensation from the damages sustained from the accident, persistence and patience are key. However, these qualities alone aren’t enough to win your case and obtain the proper compensation you deserve. And, considering the confusing negotiation tactics a defendant’s party may employ, it’s easy to lose a case with an inadequate legal party.
That is why it’s essential to have an experienced personal injury attorney by your side to help you navigate each step in seeking damages against DUI drivers successfully. By hiring competent and expert legal expertise, you’re more likely to be awarded the compensation you deserve.