Drunk drivers in and around San Diego present a clear danger to anybody on or near a roadway. More than 30,000 Californians are injured annually in accidents involving alcohol.
Although the criminal courts have the authority to punish drunk drivers, they don’t have the ability to compensate injured drunk driving accident victims. If you’re the victim of an accident that was caused by a drunk driver, here’s how you can preserve and invoke your rights to compensation.
Insist on calling the police. Don’t get talked out of it. The investigating officer will probably take the drunk driver into custody right away. An accident report will be made. That report is critical. All insurance companies involved with the crash will rely on it. Along with other information, it will probably contain:
- The names and contact information of the parties
- The names and contact information of any passengers and independent witnesses
- The name and badge number of the investigating officer
- Notations on the location of damage to the vehicles
- Any traffic offenses charged
When you’ve been injured as a result of a drunk driving accident, you should tell the 911 operator that you want paramedics to come to the accident scene. They’ll examine you, treat you to the best of their capabilities and transport you to the nearest emergency room.
Diagnostic tests and other treatment will be given there. What’s important about paramedics and emergency room treatment is the fact that a chain of medical records documenting your injuries and treatment has been started. Don’t wait for a week waiting for your pain and discomfort to go away. The opposing insurer will take advantage of the delay in treatment or any missed medical appointments.
The civil court system allows people who have been injured or lost a family member at the hands of a drunk driver to obtain compensation for their damages. Those damages might include:
- Past medical bills and medical bills reasonably expected to be incurred in the future
- Past lost earnings and lost earnings reasonably expected to be incurred in the future
- Any permanent disfigurement
- Any permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of a normal life
The Civil Burden of Proof
Even if the DUI charge against the person who injured you or killed your family member is dismissed, that fact has no bearing on liability in a civil case. That’s because the burden of proof in a civil case is a preponderance of the evidence. As opposed to beyond a reasonable doubt, a preponderance of the evidence means that your version of events is simply more likely true than not true.
Don’t Help the Other Side With its Case
The insurer of the intoxicated driver might want a written or recorded statement from you as to your version of events. Politely refuse to give it. It might also want a medical authorization from you. Politely refuse to provide that too. You’re under no legal obligation to provide the opposing insurer with those materials. It will only try to use them against you in the future.
If you were the passenger in the car that had the alleged DUI driver and you were injured, the “other side” may be that driver’s insurance. In a recent DUI accident in Washington State, a passenger was injured when the driver went off the road. The passenger was ejected as they were likely not wearing their seat belt. In cases like this the insurance company may try to blame you for your injuries. If you were the passenger, it is important to seek legal consultation before giving any statements to insurers as well.
Contact a San Diego Car Accident Lawyer Today
That opposing insurance company wants to pay as little as possible or nothing at all on your claim. If you try to represent yourself, it has you right where it wants you. As highly rated San Diego car accident lawyers we can aggressively and professionally make your personal injury claim on your behalf against the drunk driver who caused your injuries and damages.
We can seek punitive damages too. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation and case evaluation. If we’re retained, no legal fees are due unless we obtain a settlement or verdict on your behalf.